Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"No Thanks!" in 140 Characters or less

Maybe the message was something like:

Twitter: @Facebook "No can do. Thx 4 the offer."

It's common knowledge now that Twitter declined Facebook's "$500 million" offer. Running some numbers yields some interesting results on the offer and valuations of both companies. (We'll come back to the quotes around the $500 million shortly...)

Back in April, Michael Arrington wrote that Twitter was worth between $60-$150 million just before it closed it’s $15 million venture round at the end of May.

TwitDir shows that there are “3,328,420 twitterers we know!” as of the time of this article. Using the $500 million offered by Facebook for Twitter and some simple math, this would equate to a valuation of approximately $150 per twitterer. Not sure if I’m buying that (pun intended….).

Henry Blodget did some interesting analysis on the real value of the Facebook offer, since the $500 million is “overvalued Facebook stock” based on the $15 billion valuation. There are lots of ways to slice and dice Facebook's valuation (including my own perspective based on the "Facebook Multiplier"). Blodget estimates that Facebook’s correct valuation is closer to $5 billion, thus decreasing the real value of Facebook’s offer down to $150 million, or $45 per twitterer.

At $45 per twitterer, which is probably a more realistic number to use, two questions:

1. How would Facebook earn back the $45 per twitterer in future value terms?
2. What does Twitter have planned that makes them think they can do better than $150 million.

Just my opinion, but:

1. I'd guess that Facebook isn't quite sure what it'd do - sort of feels like Yahoo! in a way. Good on eyeballs and users, not so good with the whole revenue thing.
2. Twitter isn't so sure either, but knows that there's a better deal out there than $500 million in monopoly money. Just because they turned down this deal doesn't mean they turn down the same amount or less from another enterprise.


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