Digital Ad Sales potential helps propel Facebook – 3rd most valuable

  • Posted by Steve Goldberg
  • |
  • November 16, 2010

Marking another major milestone, Facebook’s worth is believed to have surpassed eBay’s to become the third most valuable Web business in the United States.

According to it’s value on SecondMarket, an exchange for shares of privately held companies, the social network is now worth about $41 billion — more that eBay’s $39.3 billion valuation on Nasdaq. (Google, valued at $192.9 billion, and Amazon, worth $74.4 billion, still lead the way.)

Suggesting that the valuation is valid, Forrester analyst Augie Ray tells Bloomberg: Facebook “has in fairly short order — just a couple of years — gone from being a very niche site to one where the majority of Americans spend a great deal of their online time.”

In what is perhaps the understatement of the century, Business Insider concludes: “The future for Facebook looks bright,” adding, “It is the primary place on the web people spend time.”

Still, “None of this really matters until Facebook goes public,” ReadWriteWeb reminds us. “This isn’t the first time we’ve seen reports regarding Facebook’s supposed valuation … In March, for example, The Wall St. Journal talked to several investors who were anticipating a market capitalization of $35 to $40 billion for the social network, given a 2011 IPO.”

Calling such lofty valuations “risky,” Mashable warns: “One only needs to look back at MySpace and how quickly it fell from a social networking powerhouse to a has-been.”

While downplaying the numbers as “fundamentally speculative,” Facebook sources are predicting sales of at least $1.4 billion this year — up from about $800 million last year. By comparison, eBay’s revenue is expected to top $9 billion this year, Mashable notes.

Yet, just based on those privately-disclosed numbers, analysts believe that Facebook has put an end to any remaining marketer concerns about social media. Citigroup analyst Mark Mahaney tells Bloomberg: “As an advertising platform, Facebook has been proven.”