Linked In was in the news yet again this morning after yesterday’s news that Linked In had more sales, made more money, but its growth arc may be flattening. Consequently the stock price took a hit after-hours as attention is also now being paid to Linked In’s recent 73x P/E ratio.
Twitter was also in the news ahead of its planned IPO on November 7th (oh I am tempted – oh so tempted as I have missed the boat on Facebook and many years ago had a position in Amazon which I was convinced to sell prematurely. Grr.). Twitter announced that photos/images will now be able to be seen without having to click out, in so doing this will add visual content to the Twitter stream to enhance the user experience. Interesting timing no?
That Linked In can be both profitable and continue to add revenue streams yet be less appealing to investors is the way of Wall Street. Linked In has become all-powerful as the go-to platform for business. If I were an investor in Linked In (I am not) I would be more concerned about the prospect of the ‘M’ word being used to describe it – Monopoly. Remember www.Plaxo.com? It tried to be an alternative to Linked In, (it was founded in 2003 before Linked In) failed miserably, and today is a glorified online address book at best. Why has there been nearly no competition emerging to challenge Linked In? The paid services offered by Linked In are hardly a pittance. There is a platform in Asia I sometime use called www.Ushi.com and it looks and feels a lot like Linked In but it can hardly be seen as a threat or competitor. With no competition on the horizon, now that Linked In is a publicly traded company will the SEC begin to look at LinkedIn as being anti-competitive?
And what of Twitter? Twitter still does not make any money, yet expects to raise as much as $12 billion in its upcoming IPO. You can argue that there is competition for Twitter from platforms such as www.Facebook.com and to a lesser degree other (SMS) short message services (i.e. www.Instagram.com, www.Snapchat.com, www.pinterest.com, and in China, the giant www.Sinaweibo.com) , but since Twitter does not make money there cannot be any anti-competitive concern – for now.
And while I’m at it Facebook also has some Oz-like properties – all-powerful that is. I would not be surprised if the SEC looked at Facebook as being possibly anti-competitive. Think www.myspace.com.
What do you think about publicly traded social media companies and the possibility that they may be seen as anti-competitive and monopolistic?