Six years. That’s only a year or two more than the typical term of a government in this country. It’s about the lifespan of your average guinea pig, depending on how much they get man-handled by over-zealous toddlers.
You can probably remember six years ago – you might even have been in the same job as you are now. Atonement and No Country for Old Men were big in the box office. Justin Timberlake was big in the charts. Remember?
Well, while you’ve been pottering along, or even working quite hard, David Karp, aged 20 in 2007 and aged 26 today, managed to found and build a company from scratch and today sell it to Yahoo! for $1.1bn dollars. That means his blogging platform, Tumblr, accrued on average $502.283 of value every single day for the last six years.
I don’t think anyone can deny that technology is a pretty unique sector when you consider the speed with which its start-ups can scale up and sell for silly money before you can say “sorry, darling, the guinea pig has gone to the special farm in the sky”.
So which tech start-ups have sold for a $1bn or more since the start of the century? Here are the big players….
Yahoo! acquires Tumblr: $1.1bn
Age of company: 6 years
Number of employees: 175
Annual revenue: reportedly $13m
Number of users: 108 million blogs
What it does: The blog service that made other blogging services look fiendishly complicated. You create a blog but can post to it over email, meaning it is ultra easy to share pretty much any type of digital content – photos, links, videos, music, quotes, text, and so on. It’s been made popular by designer types, as you can keep an ongoing stream of things you think are pretty, profound and pertinent on your own blog, which is fully customisable.
Facebook acquires Instagram: $1bn
Acquired in: October 2012
Age of company: 18 months
Number of employees: 13, reportedly. (Yes, you read that right.)
Annual revenue: Zero
Number of users at time of sale: 30 million
What it does: An app that lets users take photos with cool, retro-looking filters, and upload them onto a profile that is a stream of their photos – a bit like Twitter, but with only photos. It got hugely trendy then mass popular as Instagrammers realised they could make their scrambled egg breakfast look like a major social event simply by transforming it into sepia tone.
What Mark Zuckerberg said at the time: “This is an important milestone for Facebook because it’s the first time we’ve ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don’t plan on doing many more of these, if any at all.”
RUMOURED: Facebook buying Waze: up to $1bn
Rumours from: earlier this month
Age of company: 6 years
Number of employees: approx. 100
Annual revenue: unknown, though it makes money through advertising and selling traffic data
Number of users: 45 million, though apparently only up to 13 million are active each month
What it does: This app lets you avoid traffic by socially sharing real-time traffic info among users. If you drive around with Waze on, your smartphone feeds back to the network how bad traffic is without you having to do anything. This resultant cumulative massive morass of information from all users is then used to work our traffic short-cuts and black spots, so Waze can navigate you along the quickest route. You can decide to share extra info on accidents and police traps if you choose. Apple was eyeing it up at the start of the year for a reported $500m – analysts said it was hoping to introduce the technology to give the much-maligned Apple Maps a new lease of life.
Google acquires YouTube: $1.65bn
Acquired in: October/November 2006
Age of company: 20 months
Number of employees: 67
Annual revenue: unknown, but not profitable at time of acquisition
Number of users at time of sale: 72 million individuals each month
What it does: Well, we won’t patronise you. Google doesn’t release YouTube-specific revenue figures either, although last summer CitiGroup reckoned it would be making $3.6bn in 2012.
eBay acquires PayPal: $1.5bn
Acquired in: October 2002
Age of company: 2.5 years
Number of employees: unknown
Annual revenue: Unknown, but it apparently transacted about $1.5bn in payments in Q2 2002
Number of users: Around 20 million, reportedly
What it does: Makes buying and selling things online safer, as you transact through a PayPal account that keeps all your details safe and snuggly rather than giving out card details. This also makes buying things online quicker, as you don’t have to fill out your card details everywhere you go.
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