LinkedIn's whirlwind of a week ended with its stock price sitting at $93.09 per share, not as high as its peak of $120, but still double its starting point.
As the first major social network in the U.S. to go public, it has now set the bar for other companies looking to eventually go the same route. Despite having revenue of only $243 million and profit of $15.4 million, the company's impressive IPO shows the investors were eager for a social networking company to go public.
LinkedIn isn't worth that much, but a lot of investors wanted to invest in a social network. There were lots of buyers and not a lot to sell, said Rob Enderle, analyst at The Enderle Group.
Eventually, analysts say, the market will correct itself from this pent up demand. Companies like LinkedIn will be valued appropriately. However, experts say if the biggest social network of them all, Facebook, goes public before the market corrects itself, watch out. It would likely draw more interest, more investors and an astronomically high stock price.
If the market is still eager for social networks by the time Facebook goes to an IPO, it could easily set a record, Enderle said.
Ray Valdes, analyst at Gartner, says the math favors a huge Facebook valuation.
One can certainly do some calculation as to the percentage of revenue LinkedIn has vs. Facebook, the user base and other financial factors, then do a multiplier. Facebook probably would have a valuation 10 times the size of LinkedIn.
However, Valdes notes by the time Facebook goes to IPO, the market may correct itself, and its valuation would fall more in line with reality. Analysts are unsure whether or not this will happen; since it's unclear when Facebook will go public.
While Facebook is the main event, there are other social companies such as Zynga, Groupon and Twitter that investors will keep their eye on. Some analysts openly feared a feeding frenzy of social networks could result in another tech bubble, which occurred in the late 1990s before bursting in 2000. However, Kathy Smith, principal at IPO investment advisor firm Renaissance Capital, sees this situation differently
It's important to note, LinkedIn is a real company, there is real interest in its model, in the business model, it's not an insignificant company. LinkedIn has a valid business, Smith said. A bubble would say every deal is like LinkedIn. There is a lot of enthusiasm in social networking and maybe a mini bubble for social networking. But the overall IPO market has improved to normal levels, which are half of what they were during the internet bubble.
Smith says the LinkedIn IPO, over time, will give investors an idea of what social networking businesses are worth and the economics behind them. Unfortunately, a run-up of LinkedIn's IPO might not be the best news for the company.
If I were executives of LinkedIn, I don't know if I would be happy with a run-up of my IPO. There's going to always be happy and unhappy investors. With a run-up, it's easy to have unhappy investors. Already anyone who bought in at $120 is unhappy, Smith said.