Twitter yesterday released its third quarter 2014 results which saw the stock drop a stunning thirteen percent in the half hour after the announcement.
For Twitter’s management and shareholders the worrying thing about the stock drop is the result was in line with analyst’s expectations, the shares fell because its clear the service isn’t getting the traction investors believe is necessary to succeed online.
Investors however have only themselves to blame; as a business Twitter is simply not worth it’s thirty billion dollar stock market capitalisation; it may be worth five billion, it may be worth ten but it’s desperately overpriced at its current prices.
Almost all social media services, and many tech startups, are suffering the curse of Mark Zuckerburg — Facebook’s success has led investors to believe that all online businesses should be valued in the ten of billions.
Making matters worse, Facebook’s billion dollar purchases of Instagram, Oculus VR and WhatsApp have baked the expectation of huge valuations into the startup community. Now every service with a modest user base believes it’s worth something similar to WhatsApp’s $19 billion.
The worry is that companies like Twitter carry out dumb and ill advised things to emulate Facebook and maintain its overvalued stockprice which will damage both their brands and customer base.
For many of these social media services it might be worthwhile admitting that they aren’t Facebook and accept they are a niche product.
It may well be those niches are more profitable than being a mass market product and the idea that online success involves huge takeup is just another relic of the Twentieth Century broadcast model.
Unfortunately while Facebook dominates the social media market and Google continues to draw most of its revenue from online advertising, the wild over valuations and flawed business models will continue.