Zynga, the online games provider within Facebook, recently filed for a forthcoming IPO.
Share price has not been announced but it is anticipated that they will attempt to raise $1 billion with a company valuation of $15 -$20 billion.
A valuation of $16 billion gives a 33 times revenue multiple.
By comparison the Linkedin IPO in May gave Linkedin a valuation of 17 times revenue, about half that forecast for Zynga.
Comparing Zynga to Linkedin shows Zynga in a much stronger financial position with a larger user base.
Zynga 2010 revenue was $597m compared to $243m with Linkedin.
Zynga 2010 income from operations was $125m compared to $3.4m with Linkedin.
And Zynga report 116m monthly unique users of their service at end of 2010 compared to 46m monthly unique users of the Linkedin service.
So Zynga is a far more profitable operation than Linkedin and more than double the revenues and user numbers.
So we can expect to see a larger valuation for Zynga than $16 billion.
News Corp has recently agreed to sell Myspace for $35 million. Myspace, the leading social network before the dominance of Facebook, was purchased by News Corp in 2005 for $580 million.
At time of acquisition Myspace was the 5th most popular web site world-wide. Less than one year later it was the 2nd most popular site and News Corp was claiming in Fortune magazine that Myspace represented the biggest growth opportunity the company had. A Multi-billion dollar valuation was speculated.
Five years down the line and the fast moving nature of the Internet, and in particular the rise of Facebook, has destroyed that value.
By contrast Facebook Has recently reported 750 million monthly users. In 2005 at the time of the News Corp Myspace acquisition Facebook’s monthly user number stood at 5.5 million.
So Myspace was 5 times the size of Facebook but News Corp could not keep pace with the subsequent growth of it’s competitor.
It seems like rate of growth is the key indicator for high speculative valuation. But it’s increasingly hard to drive further increases in valuation when the growth starts to slow or even plateau. So can Facebook maintain it’s dominance when it’s user numbers start to plateau (they can’t keep on rising forever). Or will it go the way of Myspace?