Users are everything to an online company.
Because there is only so much money to be made out of most online transactions, companies’ key to growth typically involves more users, or more transactions per user, or both.
Here’s what some of the more notable technology companies in Australia and the US have said about their user bases when going public:
Matt Barrie's 4-year-old Freelancer.com connects employers with freelancers from 247 'countries, regions and territories' worldwide.
The company looks likely to be worth $218 million when it floats on the ASX on November 15; according to its IPO filing, funds will go towards domain acquisitions and growth.
Freelancer.com says it had 9 million users as of September 27, and expects to generate a net profit after tax of $471,000 in the 12 months to 31 December 2013.
'Freelancer's revenues depend upon attracting significant web traffic to its websites,' the company noted.
'The level of web traffic to these websites directly influences the number of new users, the number of new services offered and other factors that affect the amount of fees able to be levied.
'A decline in traffic to Freelancer's websites could lead to a decline in Freelancer's ability to attract and retain users, which could in tern lead to a decline in services being provided.
'This could adversely affect Freelancer's revenues and its ability to continue to grow.'
Twitter reported 218.3 million average monthly active users who generated 150.9 billion timeline views in the 3 months to June 30, up 44% and 69% respectively from the year prior.
Twitter makes money for advertising on users' timelines, and earned $0.80 per timeline view in the 3 months to June 30, up 26% on the year prior. US advertisers account for $US2.17 in revenue per timeline view, and advertisers elsewhere pay $US0.30 per timeline view.
In its IPO prospectus earlier this month, Twitter wrote: 'We may face challenges in increasing the size of our user base, including, among others, competition from alternative products and services, a decline in the number of influential users on Twitter or a perceived decline in the quality of content available on Twitter.
'We intend to drive growth in our user base by continuing to demonstrate the value and usefulness of our products and services to potential new users, and by introducing new products, services and features.
'We anticipate that our user growth rate will slow over time as the size of our user base increases.
'To the extent our user growth or user growth rate slows, our revenue growth will become increasingly dependent on our ability to increase levels of user engagement, as measured by timeline views and timeline views per MAU, and monetisation, as measured by advertising revenue per timeline view.'
Twitter reported revenue of $US253.6 million and a net loss of $US69.3 million for the six months to June 30.
Facebook went public on the NASDAQ on 18 May last year. Stocks were priced at $US38 each, giving it a market capitalisation of about $104 billion.
Shares plummeted to $US18 within four months. They are now worth $US49.50.
In its IPO prospectus, Facebook reported having 901 million monthly active users and 526 million daily active users in March 2012, up 33% and 41% respectively from the year prior.
The company reported a revenue of $US3.71 billion in the 12 months to 31 December 2011, and a net profit after tax of $US1 billion.
Users were named alongside advertising revenue and regulatory and technological changes as key risks in the prospectus.
'If we fail to retain existing users or add new users, or if our users decrease their level of engagement with Facebook, our revenue, financial results, and business may be significantl harmed,' the company warned.
Business networking site LinkedIn reported some 100 million members worldwide when it filed its IPO prospectus in May 2011.
At the time, LinkedIn said its strategy was to foster viral member growth, position itself as the 'Professional Profile of Record', house enough user-generated data to be the essential source of professional insights, be accessible across platforms and countries, and increase monetisation.
'We have a short operating history in a new and unproven market that may not develop as expected, if at all,' Linkedin wrote.
'We expect to face increasing competition in the market for online professional networks from social networking sites and internet search companies, among others, as well as continued competition for customers of our hiring and marketing solutions.
'Any such increased competition could cause pricing pressure, loss of market share or decreased member engagement, any of which could adversely affect our business and operating results.'
LinkedIn reported a net revenue of $US93.9 million in the 3 months to 31 March 2013 and a net profit after tax of $US2.08 million.
Graeme Wood's online travel booking group Wotif made its debut on the ASX on 2 June 2006, offering 203 million shares at $2 each.
The IPO gave Wotif a market capitalisation of $406.4 million. Wotif said it generated a revenue of $45.3 million and net profit after tax of $22.5 million in the 2006 financial year.
According to the company's IPO prospectus, Wotif had almost 2 million user sessions and 110,000 bookings a month at the time.
It highlighted as risks supplier relationships, competition, regulatory changes, low levels of internet penetration in Australia, and a loss of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Wotif boasted a 36% share of Australian online accommodation sales in 2005, after about 4 years of steady growth.
The company now has a share price of $4.62 and a market capitalisaion of $978 million.
Jobs listing site Seek.com has been one of the few online companies to be listed on the ASX for some time.
After more than 8 years on the ASX and 13 years in business, Seek is now trading at $12 a share.
Google went public on 24 August 2004. Shares were priced at $US85 each, giving Google a market capitalisation of $US35.4 billion.
The company reported a revenue of $US1.34 billion and net profit after tax of $143 million in the six months to 30 June 2004.
In its IPO prospectus, Google said it had built itself up as a top internet destination and one of the most recognised brands in the world because of its web search and advertising technologies.
'We generate revenue by delivering relevant, cost-effective online advertising ... we believe that our user focus is the foundation of our success to date,' the company wrote.
'We also believe that this focus is critical for the creation of long-term value. We do not intend to compromise our user focus for short-term economic gain.'
Google shares are now worth $US882, giving it a market capitalisation of $US294 billion.
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