Some thoughts on Facebook S-1 Registration Statement

I crunch numbers for living and read the entire S-1 Registration Statement while lunching on the best biryani ever. I was looking for accounting gimmicks, similar to the one used by Groupon. Apart from the non-GAAP cash flow projection, Facebook didn’t invent bizzare terms to justify expenses or acquisition costs. likes 1.

Facebook’s choice of audit firm, Ernst & Young, didn’t sit too well with me. They audited Lehman Brothers, Bernie Madoff etc and of course gave the opinion that the financial statements “present fairly, in all material respects, the consolidated financial position” of the said company. That wasn’t entirely true, was it? Apart from that, they also gave a big thumbs up to Groupon and then SEC had to step in and ask Groupon that it revise it’s shady accounting. likes 0.

I use Facebook’s app more than I use the actual website. I am not the only one, majority of the people I know use Facebook on their smartphones. That is good and bad. Good because having access to Facebook on our phones keeps us more addicted to it. It’s like getting cocaine at a drive-thru. Bad because Facebook doesn’t know how to make money off of mobile users yet but I am sure there is something in works. likes 0, likes 1.

S-1 registration statement didn’t reveal the metric that is a standard in online advertising and that omission has lead to speculation about the effectiveness of Facebook ads. I am talking about the Click-through Rate or CTR. Revealing this metric will make it easier for analysts and investors to compare it with Google’s CTR – undisputed leader in online advertising. likes 0.

What worries me most is that Facebook’s true evaluation is not anywhere near the $100 billion territory. 85% of revenue is based on advertising and 12% comes from its partnership with Zynga. $3 billion revenues in 2011, multiply that by 10 and you get $30 billion. In reality, companies are not worth more than 5-10 times their revenues. In perspective, Google is worth around $200 billion and it had $38 billion in revenues in 2011. That amount is in line with the industry average of 5 to 10 times the revenue. likes 0.


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