WhatsApp Valuation Model

I finally had a moment to figure out the Whatsapp business model. First year is free and then $0.99 per year thereafter. With 400 Million users, that is about $400M in revenue per year (or per next year). 

They do 18 Billion messages per day. Using Amazon AWS SQS or SNS pricing of $0.50 per Million, that is $9,000 per day of approximate cost, or about $4M of costs per year. I know that is probably a bit light because I am not including data transfer costs of about a Nickel/GB. 

For employee costs, they had about 60 people at an average fully burdened load of $200K is about $11M.

The big cost for WhatsApp are the Apple and Android Store transaction fees of 30% - about $120M.

So, a net income (next) year of ~$260M. 

Put that net at a 73X P/E ratio and it gets you to the $19B valuation.  Comparatively:

  • IBM has a PE of 12
  • Red Hat has a PE of 64
  • Facebook has a PE of 112
  • Amazon has a PE of 580.

Of course it positions Facebook well to address some challenges it has.  The two big ones that come to mind is that the Facebook app is too big now and therefore they need some other brands and apps to get to market if they want to continue to grow.  The second one is that they have set Facebook up to be an advertising driven model (although there are some huge opportunities still to do things like payments and identification). The WhatsApp subscription pricing gives them some diversity in their revenue model moving forward.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure Zuckerberg did not make a huge mistake here.  And I think Facebook will continue to bring new brands to market thru development or acquisition just as Google has.


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