Founder Jason Fried informed his employees about the new deal at a recent company-wide meeting. The financing round was led by Yardstick Capital and Institutionalized Venture Partners.
In order to increase the value of the company, 37signals has decided to stop generating revenues. “When it comes to valuation, making money is a real obstacle. Our profitability has been a real drag on our valuation,” said Mr. Fried. “Once you have profits, it’s impossible to just make stuff up. That’s why we’re switching to a ‘freeconomics’ model. We’ll give away everything for free and let the market speculate about how much money we could make if we wanted to make money. That way, the sky’s the limit!”
Proof that 37signals is now a $100 billion dollar company.
A $100 billion value for 37signals is “not outlandish,” says Aanandamayee Bhatnagar, a finance professor and valuation guru at Grenada State’s Schnook School of Business. Bhatnagar points to a leaked, confidential corporate strategy plan that projects 37signals will attract twelve billion users by the end of 2013.
How will the company overcome the fact that there are only 6.8 billion people alive today? “Why limit users to people?” said Bhatnagar.
In order to determine the valuation of companies, Bhatnagar typically applies the following formula: [(Twitter followers x Facebook fans) + (# of employees x 1000)] x (RSS subscribers + daily page views) + (monthly burn rate x Google’s stock price)2 and then doubles if it they use Ruby on Rails or if the CEO has run a business into the ground before. Bhatnagar admits the math is mostly a guess but points out that “the press eats it up.”
To help handle the burdens of an increased valuation, 37signals hired former YouTube exec Craig Mirage as Chief Operating Officer earlier this month. Mirage hopes to replicate YouTube’s valuation success at 37signals. “Of course, the investment comes with great expectations. But you should see the spreadsheet models we’re making up. Really breakthrough stuff,” said Mirage.