Need funding for your startup? Don’t load up your PowerPoint with nifty charts showing all the users your online service has grabbed. Venture capitalists are no longer impressed. These days, investors want to hear about the revenue you’re generating, not the traffic.
“There have been a lot of companies that had a lot of users and didn’t make as much money as they should have, so investors are reevaluating,” explains Naval Ravikant, founder of the startup advice site Venture Hacks and the investor-entrepreneur matchmaking site AngelList. “This became most apparent in the Facebook app craze, when lot of top-ranked Facebook apps showed 60 million or 100 million users but ended up being worth almost nothing. Even Facebook hasn’t been able to monetize as well as Wall Street was expecting.”
The new generation of billion-dollar internet companies is built on revenue. Businesses likeAirbnb, GitHub and Dropbox all have plenty of users. But much more important, those users generate serious cash flow.
The flipside is that even companies without massive traffic can now attract intense investor interest – if they have real revenue. “A company like Uber doesn’t have a ton of users but they’re making gobs and gobs of money with their high-ticket mobile car service,” Ravikant says. “They have huge margins and high-frequency repeat business.”
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