Meebo is out raising a $25-$30 million round at a $200-$250 million valuation, reports VentureBeat. That’s up from a previous valuation of $60-$70 million, when it raised $9 million from DFJ last year. If this all is true, the raise is a bellwether for big, later-stage rounds in the current market environment, I guess competitor Ebuddy.com will re-think again. Not only is the valuation seen as high, but the service is still seen as service or a product, rather than a solid business.
— Ads Not surprising: the core revenue idea at this point is based around ads. The biggest revenue piece right now would be advertising. Meebo claims that for every 100 people that log into Meebo, three of them click on an ad. In terms of numbers, the company claims 7.5 million uniques at Meebo.com and another 22 million across the network.
— Premium services: Another avenue that the company is exploring is digital goods, compare this with QQ in China based virtual currency. Users might pay for advanced features: skins and avatars are the most obvious.
— B2B: In addition to the core consumer-facing business, the company is helping third parties establish their own chat services. Currently it has partnerships with VH1, MTV, CBS, Showtime, RockYou, New York Post, GSN and others.
— Exit Scenario: Ultimately, Meebo will argue that it’s not just a product or a feature, but a viable ad-driven business. At least for now, it doesn’t see a sale in its future. Also they will not admit publicly..for now!
— iPhone: Unfortunately for Meebo, the iPhone SDK doesn’t allow apps to run in the background. Unless the company changes that at some point, iPhone users will still have to go to Meebo.com to user the service.
Having said this all, I did exchange emails with JJ of Ebuddy.com and asked him where they stand. His quote was very clear; “In the USA we can say that Meebo is 6 times bigger than Ebuddy, but in Europe we are twice as big. On the web we are just a bit bigger then Meebo. On the mobile we have 2 mio uniques and (investors read this!) almost profitable!”
Of course Ebuddy.com just got a round of funding which makes it interesting to see where these two companies will stand in 1-2 years from now.