22 November, 2015

Startup valuations tumble, wiping $1b off average value of mobile internet unicorns

The current bubble debate has polar opposites with Bill Gurley saying we’re in the middle of a tech bubble, and Marc Andreessen saying there’s no such thing. Tech adviser Digi-Capital’s new Mobile Internet Report Q3 2015 shows that the mobile market sided with Bill in the last quarter.
Mobile internet stocks were down 15.7 percent in the 12 months to Q3, and the average valuation dropped in Q3 from US$9 billion to US$8 billion for the 105 mobile internet unicorns.
(Note: The analysis covers mobile internet companies only, excluding mobile device, infrastructure and large but minority mobile businesses.)
Digi-Capital’s index of 96 mobile internet public stocks fell 15.7 percent in the 12 months to Q3 2015. Looking within the 17 mobile stock market sectors that Digi-Capital covers, the best performers were food and drink, wearables and navigation, all up over 20 percent in the 12 months to Q3. Enterprise/B2B and mobile tech were up less than 5 percent.
The remaining 12 sectors (music, games, messaging, social, lifestyle, entertainment, business, travel/transport, app store/distribution, m-commerce, advertising/marketing and utilities) were down by as much as 40 percent for the last 12 months.
While the 105 mobile internet unicorns’ total enterprise value was broadly flat in Q3 (or down US$52 billion if Alibaba is included), they are still worth US$839 billion. Huge value has been created in a relatively short period, considering that the iPhone only launched in 2007. The mobile internet unicorns’ value is highly concentrated within their 21 sectors. 7 sectors (social, mCommerce, transport, finance, messaging, games, food & drink) made up 90 percent of the total enterprise value in Q3.
The remaining 14 sectors (utilities, music, lifestyle, wearables, travel, entertainment, tech, enterprise/B2B, app store/distribution, medical, advertising/marketing, navigation, photo & video, productivity) account for only 10 percent.
There are 15 countries represented in the mobile internet unicorns list, but America and China drove over 85 percent of their value. North America’s 41 mobile internet unicorns are worth more than half the value. China’s 39 companies came second with one third of the wealth. Europe (Sweden, UK, Germany, Finland, Denmark, France) created 5 percent of mobile internet unicorn gold, with India, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Singapore and Malaysia collectively worth the remaining 9 percent.
The negative results from Q3 don’t mean that Bill Gurley has won the argument yet, or that it’s all downhill from here. With mobile internet revenue forecast to grow to US$850 billion by 2018, there is huge real world value being delivered every day. The question of how this translates to valuations remains to be seen, so Marc shouldn’t give up on the fight just yet.
You can find out about who won and who lost (and by how much) in Digi-Capital’s Mobile Internet Report Q3 2015.