Om Malik says eyeballs are regaining their luster

While Om Malik says that online visitors are worth $38 each, Jason Calacanis values them at $1 to $3.
Stephen Baker

What's an online visitor worth? Om Malik triggers a debate with his post on whether investors are dusting off discredited metrics from the dot-com boom, and paying for "eyeballs." And why not? During the bust, Jupiter Communications' boomtime projection of an online ad market of $16.5 billion in 2005 seemed laughable. But now it looks like online ads will reach $12 billion this year, Malik writes, which means Jupiter wasn't all that far off. At $38 per user, the figure he calculates from recent deals, he figures Boingboing would be worth $34 million.

Jason Calacanis, whose sale of Weblogs Inc. to AOL for a reported $25 million is cited as a return of eyeball valuations, says Malik has it wrong, and that sites are valued by revenue, not eyeballs. Here's his thinking on what Boingboing is worth:

Boingboing, like any other web property, is worth 1-10x revenue and 5-30x earnings. So, if BB does 30-50k a month/360-600k a year (which seems possible to me based on the ~5m page views a month) it would be worth between 500k and $3M (based on revenue since with five mouths and server hosting to pay for it doesn't really have earnings--yet!). Those numbers fall into line with my calculation of a really loyal user being worth $1-3.
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