Craigslist, Facebook, Firefox, Ning, Silicon Valley, Slide, Twitter, venture capital, Web/Tech, Yelp

Impressive Feat by SAI

I'm very busy earning my three-day-a-week keep at Yahoo this way-too-early Monday morning, but I hope to carve out some time to go through Silicon Alley Insider's SAI 25 index today. It's a list of the 25 most valuable private digital companies. Folks, these things are hard to produce. For one thing, getting the real numbers can be an Oceans 11-heist-style feat of reporting. Plus, a private company is typically valued on its potential not its revenues-- or even more subjective, it's valued on what it's worth for others to put money in the company. (i.e. Facebook, Microsoft and that $15 billion valuation)

While Facebook is no. 1 on the list-- at $9 billion, not $15 billion-- there are some surprises.

I, for one, wonder how you rank Federated Media above Yelp. As I wrote about here, local is one of the single hardest things to build online so Yelp is hardly a sure thing, but to my mind, it has gotten farther than anyone else and if they nail it, it's a pretty clearly monetizable business that scales. Federated Media, on the other hand, is a great and necessary business for helping build out the new media properties. But I'm not sure it scales or deserves remotely the same multiple. I think it's a pretty no-brainer bet that Yelp ends up being worth more than FM when it's all said and done. Likewise, I think Yelp is worth far more than Meebo, the company just after it on the list. But again, private company valuations are really subjective. All-in-all a great effort by SAI that gets a lot of it right, and even the parts I disagree with are thought-provoking.

Two big takeaways: There are only 12 companies out there in the world worth $1 billion or more according to SAI, and three of the top five are all the non-profit or non-profit leaning Wikipedia, Craigslist and Mozilla. I can tell-- even from 3,000 miles away-- how much this likely incenses a market guy like Henry Blodget that some of the biggest assets online are barely monetized.

Below, a couple of Tech Ticker video interviews of two of the do-gooders, Craig Newmark and Mozilla's John Lilly. (Fun fact on both videos: My audio screwed up on the Craigslist one, and there was a "conspiracy theory" that I didn't really do the interview in the TT comments. Even though you see me walking around with Craig at his house. On the Firefox one, several commenters said I needed to stop talking about myself. Let me know if you spot the place where I do, because I sure don't. Awesome how much people manufacture reasons to hate me. Got to give them points for creativity!)

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Srah Lacy

Sarah Lacy is an award-winning reporter who has covered high-growth entrepreneurship for more than fifteen years. She is the founder, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of PandoDaily.com, the site-of-record for the startup ecosystem. She lives in San Francisco.

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