Several companies that were supposed to be the foundation of a new Internet era plummeted this week as analysts and investors downgraded their dreams. There were instant echoes of the crash of 2000, when the money stopped flowing, the dot-coms crumbled and Silicon Valley devolved into recriminations and lawsuits.
Shares of Facebook stumbled to a new low Friday after its first earnings report revealed a murky path to any profit that would justify its lofty valuation. The heavily promoted $100 billion company on the eve of its May debut is now a $65 billion company and persistently headed south.
Zynga, the social games company that uses Facebook as a platform, was battered even worse on Thursday, leaving its value at less than a quarter of its peak last winter. Netflix, which is trying to move from physical discs to streaming video, and the coupon company Groupon have also been under severe pressure, leaving them at a fraction of their recent worth.
Feelings of disillusionment are far from universal, and came even as The New York Times reported that Apple, the most successful tech company, had been discussing an investment in Twitter. Social media is flourishing; a billion Facebook and 500 million Twitter users would vouch for that. But as just about every Internet company is grappling with the transition to a mobile world, turning groups of people into cash-generating customers on a hand-held device is clearly an immense task.
Nick Zaharias, an independent consultant who advises institutional investors, said his clients were “infinitely more skeptical.”
“For future deals that are pitched as social deals,” he explained, “they’re not going to pay up. The multiples are going to be far, far lower.”
keyboard shortcuts: V vote up article J next comment K previous comment