Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Back to Eyeballs? Visitor-Based Valuations Don't Tell All, But are Telling

Back in the height of dot-com madness there was a lot a froth about counting unique Web site visitors - "eyeballs," as they became known - as a means of deriving valuations for Web sites built out of thin air. Unfortunately those metrics did not stand up to reason in the short term, and the rest is history. But the other side of the history is that traffic continued to build on low-rent sites based on weblogs and other user-oriented publishing technologies until monetization via ads seen by those eyeballs was an entirely reasonable business plan. Business 2.0 notes that although more sophisticated valuation techniques are still important, factoring $38 per unique monthly ganderer allows for some very interesting shadow valuations - $155 million for the geekish weblog Slashdot, $127 million for Facebook and $76 million for Nick Denton's Gawker Media. Looks like AOL got a bargain for Weblogs, Inc. at a paltry $25 million by these estimates - or came up with a more realistic formula for user-generated media value. It's highly doubtful that eyeball-only valuations will become the norm again but as a first-pass metric it shows the huge return on investment to which pioneers in user-generated media staked themselves with little more than a few years of sweat equity and some well-turned words. Just one more log on the fire for shareholders of established publishers to warm up their envy of born-on-the-Web properties.
Post a Comment