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List of 100 Most Valuable Digital Startups Includes Indeed, TheLadders


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Indeed and TheLadders are two of the most valuable startups in the world. How do we know that? Business Insider says so.

The financial and business site posted its list of the 100 most valuable digital startups today. Not surprisingly, Facebook is #1. According to Business Insider, Facebook is worth $80 billion, up from last year’s $50 billion.

(After today’s product and feature announcements by CEO Mark Zuckerberg at the company’s f8 conference, who knows how much the company will be worth. A Huffington Post article calls the changes “profound,” putting Facebook “at the forefront of a paradigm shift.”)

While none of the other companies on the list even remotely approach the lofty valuations of Facebook (#2 is Zynga at $11 billion), Business Insider says Indeed, the job search vertical, is worth a cool $450 million, ranking it 37. TheLadders it values at $225 million, placing it at 59.

I emailed both sites asking a version of that penetrating reportorial question, “How does it make you feel?”

Alex Douzet, president of TheLadders, wrote back to say, “I find the list entertaining.” He had more to say, but the comment sums up the list’s relative significance.

Whether an eight-year-old company like TheLadders should be considered a startup is debatable. As is the criterion used in the rankings. There’s a robust discussion of that by readers on the Business Insider site.

Since few privately owned companies detail their finances, establishing a value is shooting in the dark, or at least by candlelight. So I asked about the reliability of the Business Insider numbers. Here’s what Douzet had to say:

All these companies are privately owned. So there is no market for these shares yet, therefore this exercise is very speculative (on the upside and the downside). Private company valuation is a tricky exercise. One thing that is different for TheLadders.com compare to other companies on this list is that we have not raised any money since 2004, making our current valuation a very speculative exercise since we do not disclose revenue or profits to the public.

Haven’t heard back from Indeed, but from previous conversations with CEO Paul Forster, I imagine he’d say the same thing.

In the case of TheLadders, Business Insider adopted the value established by SharesPost, an online marketplace for the sale of privately held securities. Prices based on private sales, though, don’t reflect what an arms-length transaction might yield, which is why, Douzet said, “I won’t believe in any of the values until these companies either become public or get acquired.”

So to help clear things up, I also asked about company revenues. Said Douzet, who has a good sense of humor, “More than $1 but less than $1 billion.”

John Zappe was a newspaper reporter and editor until his geek gene lead him to launch his first website in 1994. Never a recruiter, he instead built online employment sites and sold advertising services to recruiters and employers. As VP of one large media operation, his employment revenue alone approached $2.5 million. Besides writing for ERE, John consults with digital content operations, focusing on the advertising side. And when he’s not doing either, he can be found hiking in the California mountains or competing in canine agility events.