With the year ending, it’s time to rank things from 2014.
So, here we go. My rankings:
- The tech company of the year was Facebook.
- The runner up tech company of the year is Apple.
- The startup of the year is Uber.
- The runner up startup of the year is Xiaomi.
This was a huge year for Facebook. The company is executing at a high level, as they say on VC blogs.
There’s the numbers:
The stock is up 41%.
- Revenue in Q3 was $US3.2 billion, up 59% on a year over year basis.
- It has 1.3 billion monthly active users, and it’s still adding millions of users every quarter.
- Instagram has 300 million users.
- Facebook messenger has 500 million users.
- WhatsApp has over 600 million users.
But it’s more than numbers.
It’s silly to say this considering how well Facebook has done throughout its life, but this year it feels like Mark Zuckerberg hit a level of confidence in what he’s doing that’s unparalleled in tech.
He’s no longer a young punk CEO being admonished by analysts for wearing a hoodie. He’s a savvy veteran that’s absolutely killing it.
He’s not like Larry Page making big hairy bets that may or may not pay off. Zuckerberg made smart bets that seem destined to be successful. The stuff that’s more experimental and will likely flop — apps like Paper, Slingshot, and Rooms — is small relative to the big picture.
Zuckerberg bought WhatsApp in a deal that was ultimately valued at $US22 billion. As an encore, he spent $US2 billion Oculus Rift, a virtual reality company that could be creating the next major computing platform.
Those are big price tags, but when Zuckerberg paid $US1 billion for Instagram, people thought it was expensive. This year, Instagram was valued at $US35 billion by an analyst at Citi. So, Zuckerberg can point at that and say “stuff it” if anyone doubts him.
The biggest moment of the year for Facebook, in my opinion, happened during the company’s third quarter earnings call. In it, Zuckerberg laid out his convincing vision for the next 3 years, 5 years, and 10 years for Facebook. Here’s the short version:
- In the next three years, Facebook will continue to make Facebook a stronger product.
- In the next five years, Facebook will focus on getting a billion users on WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. In particular, Zuckerberg is going to focus on messaging, which he thinks can be a massive business.
- In the next then years, Facebook is going to focus on connecting the rest of the world, new computing platforms like virtual reality, and artificial intelligence.
Previously, Zuckerberg was not a clear public speaker. Now he is. And he has a perfect vision for his company and what he wants to do with it.
As for the other companies…
I talk about Uber, Apple, and Xiaomi in my weekly podcast with New York Times columnist Farhad Manjoo. Which you can hear below. You can subscribe to the podcast in iTunes here. Here’s an RSS link to the show. I use SoundCloud as a host, so you can listen to the show over there, too.