37 Signals founder Jason Fried's take on the current wave of venture capital interest in Internet-based companies that aren't making money, "PRESS RELEASE: 37SIGNALS VALUATION TOPS $100 BILLION AFTER BOLD VC INVESTMENT". Excerpts:
CHICAGO—September 24, 2009—37signals is now a $100 billion dollar company, according to a group of investors who have agreed to purchase 0.000000001% of the company in exchange for $1.
Founder Jason Fried informed his employees about the new deal at a recent company-wide meeting. The financing round was led by Yardstick Capital and Institutionalized Venture Partners.
In order to increase the value of the company, 37signals has decided to stop generating revenues. “When it comes to valuation, making money is a real obstacle. Our profitability has been a real drag on our valuation,” said Mr. Fried. “Once you have profits, it’s impossible to just make stuff up. That’s why we’re switching to a ‘freeconomics’ model. We’ll give away everything for free and let the market speculate about how much money we could make if we wanted to make money.
A $100 billion value for 37signals is “not outlandish,” says Aanandamayee Bhatnagar, a finance professor and valuation guru at Grenada State’s Schnook School of Business. Bhatnagar points to a leaked, confidential corporate strategy plan that projects 37signals will attract twelve billion users by the end of 2013.
How will the company overcome the fact that there are only 6.8 billion people alive today? “Why limit users to people?” said Bhatnagar.
In order to determine the valuation of companies, Bhatnagar typically applies the following formula: [(Twitter followers x Facebook fans) + (# of employees x 1000)] x (RSS subscribers + daily page views) + (monthly burn rate x Google’s stock price)2 and then doubles if it they use Ruby on Rails or if the CEO has run a business into the ground before.
I wonder if Fred Wilson, venture capitalist investor in Twitter, among other Internet businesses, will respond to this on his blog. If so, it should lead to a spirited discussion in the comments.
Ruby on Rails, the web framework my developers use, was created by one of the partners in 37 Signals. My web developers mentioned this to me when I asked them if they had read the book Getting Real by 37 Signals, which I had first heard about from this video blog post from Tim Ferriss's site.