Google's initial public offering valued its shares at US$85. A week ago Google shares were US$622. That's a rise of 731%. In terms of market capitalisation Google now exceeds US$194 billion, which still keeps it way ahead of all other media or Internet businesses worldwide.
However, here's a quiz. Whose shares have risen more to date, Google's since its float in August 2004; or Apple, Inc's since the return of Steve Jobs in 1997?
For the answer we are indebted to Why the iPod can be conquered on 8 October 2007 by Richard Siklos (Fortune magazine editor-at-large). But before you read on, come on, have you guessed yet? Siklos writes:
"Like so much else in business, the ultimate measure of why everyone wants a piece of the iPod is market cap envy. Remember, a decade ago, Apple was nearly done for and Steve Jobs returned to the company as what was supposed to be interim CEO.
With it stock trading at around US$5.25, his nemesis Bill Gates' Microsoft invested US$150 million in exchange for a kind of detente between the two companies.
Friday, Apple stock closed at US$161.45 and its market cap stands at US$140 billion, almost exactly half the value of the Microsoft leviathan and bigger than, just to pick some companies at random, the combined values of Sony, Walt Disney, Warner Music Group and what some private equity firms recently paid for EMI."
Awesome yes? Apple's market valuation has increased vastly more than Google's in the abovementioned period.
This is not to under-rate Google. As Alan Koler noted in the Sydney Morning Herald of 8 June 2005 (when Google was about half its current market captialisation): "Google Inc took over the top spot as the most highly valued media company this week, surpassing Time Warner Inc in just 10 months of trading as a public company."
Both Google and Apple have gained enormously from being online and listed. Google was born online and its value blossomed after it floated.
Apple was born offline, listed and went up and down in valuation, went big time online in its clever ipod business model, and the rest is straight uphill as illustrated in the above Bloomberg graphic.
To put the above in context, a wealth of raw data on global media company revenues and rankings can be found at this 1 October 2007 list of links: 100 Leading Media Companies.
The takeaway is that businesses which have a real and effective presence online live in interesting times. Effective online presence, especially for a listed company provides a remarkable level of valuation oomph. I'd welcome your call if you want to chew the fat about your online opportunity.
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