$2 billion. That's billion with a "B". That's a lot of money. That is also what Aaron Levie's Inc. Magazine Entrepreneur of the Year company, Box Inc., is being valued at today. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Box has said it recieved a fresh round of $125 million in investment, with $100 million of that money coming from a single private equity firm. Also according to the article, Box is expecting to close out 2013 with approximately $100 million in revenue, giving the company a 20x multiple. The numbers are certainly impressive, but is this a bubble or are we seeing a fundamental shift in how businesses of the future will operate, thus justifying the big dollar signs?
A recent article in Forbes stated the following: "Taking a cue from the Dot-com bubble’s playbook, investors have resorted to valuing today’s profitless tech companies on a price-to-sales ratio basis, yet even this metric shows that Twitter’s valuation is quite overvalued at 22 times its expected 2014 sales, which is approximately double the multiple carried by Facebook and LinkedIn (which have high multiples in their own right)."
Plenty’s been written already about Facebook’s IPO filing yesterday. I won’t rehash the many excellent analyses that you’ve surely already seen.
Instead, I want to take this blog post into thought-experiment territory. I want to think about a world in which Google and Facebook are primary competitors in a mano-a-mano battle—not just for our eyeballs, but for our data, too. For the right, as it were, to be our “digital identity.”
Over the holidays, my mother—67 year old tech-accepter, Kindle-owner, smartphone-avoider—called me into the office to show me her Facebook newsfeed. “How,” she asked, “do they know that I’m interested in Persian classical music and that I live in Los Angeles?” As I was explaining behavioral targeting and computational advertising, I glanced over at the computer, only to see her click through and order tickets from that Facebook ad.
So I asked, “Do you trust Facebook?” To which she replied, “Of course not!” as she entered her credit card number, home address, and email address for a very spendy concert ticket.
“Do you trust Google?” I asked. “More than Facebook, I suppose,” she answered. “But Facebook shows me stuff I like more often than Google does.”
That experience, plus a brainstorm with my colleagues on the Customer Intelligence team here at Forrester got me thinking: What if, as a consumer, you had to choose between Facebook and Google? Which service is more valuable to you? Which will BE more valuable in the future? I decided to compare the competitors (and let there be no mistake—Facebook’s S-1 filing very clearly identifies Google as Enemy No. 1) across the dimensions of Forrester’s customer engagement cycle: