One of the highest profile liquidity events in the first half of 2012 was Facebook’s deal to acquire Instagram for $1 billion. The popular mobile photo-sharing service should fit well into Facebook’s growth strategy as a public company, but its eye-popping valuation — more than that of the New York Times, for those keeping score at home — is made more extraordinary by the fact that Instagram, at the time the deal was announced, was run by only 13 employees.
Setting aside questions of unique strategic value for the moment, what could possibly make Instagram worth ten figures? Brand recognition, goodwill, user loyalty, mushrooming usage metrics, sure — but perhaps most importantly, a mountain of intellectual property. My quick-and-dirty assessment, based on pure speculation with no inside knowledge, produced the following taxonomy:Continue Reading