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Tag: valuation

Valuation of Hierarchy vs. Network

Modern platforms such as Google, Facebook, AirBnB, and others enjoy astronomical market valuations despite having comparatively less hard assets as legacy firms like Marriot, Boeing, T-Mobile, or Walmart. The difference may have something to do with their organizational structure.

Hierarchy: Since the dawn of the industrial revolution, centralized organizations comprised of multiple levels of management have been the proven means for allocating resources and minimizing risk.  The value of such a construct is expressed in terms of market demand and sensitivity to risk as expressed by the Capital Asset Pricing Model (CAPM).

E(Ri) = Rf + Bi (E(Rm)-Rf)

Where:

E(Ri) = Expected rate of return on capital amount
Rf = Risk free rate of return
Bi = Sensitivity to market volatility
(E(Rm) = Expected market return

The CAPM valuation model for an organization is dominated by market risk multiplied by a firms sensitivity to market risk.  CAPM valuations are limited by market expectations and performance.  CAPM is largely a linear function except in the exclusive state where volatility is very low and market returns are very high, such as monopoly or some duopoly conditions.

Networks: A network is characterized by a collection of nodes (which may represent a switch, a computer, a sensor, or a person) and branches (wires, signals, instructions, or communications) connecting the nodes.  The value of networks is a function of the total number of nodes and the total number of possible connections that can be completed between them multiplied by some coefficient of value for the quality of those connections. 

Metcalfe’s law for Networks suggests that the theoretical value of a network will be proportional to the square of the number of nodes according to the following relationship.

Theoretical value is proportional to: n(n-1)/2

The Actual value would be related to the quality of the nodes, the actual number of existing branches, and the net quality for the transactions that transpire over the network. For example, the Value of Facebook is estimated at:

VFacebook = (5.70 x 10-9) x n2

Where (n2) is the total number of users and (5.70 x 10-9), is an incredibly small number represents the average quantity and quality of nodes and branches between them. The Facebook platform objective is to maximize total number of connects AND maximize quantity AND quality of the interactions.  For reference; MySpace still has 500M registered users giving it a valuable network, however, a low coefficient of interaction has eroded value of the platform substantially.

Self-regulation, fault-tolerance, and Management Autonomy

The network can make independent decisions: An engineer that is mis-allocated can quickly move closer to their area of interest and competence.  Overlap between civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers can be managed appropriately.   A corrupt engineer would have a very difficult time gaining access to a target without enduring a long and difficult road to establishing a transaction record that would permit sufficient isolation to the target to actually profit from the crime. It would be difficult to corrupt an engineer without knowing if they will be assigned to a target.  It would be difficult to which engineer will be assigned to a potential target in advance of the attack.  If an attack was attempted, it would be easy to identify who committed the crime.  High impact targets may be covered with redundancy or a Byzantine proof.  Obviously, Bots would be quickly and easily dispatched to the null condition.

Network Learning

Interactions between nodes will tend to optimize claims such that the value of the compensation received is proportional to the effort required to establish and verify a claim.   This is a common practice in professional societies and certification bodies today.  Further, strong professional communities with sufficient diversity, create conditions for rapidly and iterative teaching, learning, and collaboration leading to a high rates of innovation.  Finally, professionals may reflect artistic or literary expertise or cite membership in multiple networks on their own valuation and the valuation of their team.  Reflecting diverse interests from professional, recreational, and social opportunities will increase the individuals stake in the network and everyone’s stake in a team.

The Value of the Quantchain Network:

Economist Robert Solow received a nobel prize for his work in estimating that 80% of economic growth can be attributed to technological change. Said another way, for every 2 dollars spent on engineering, society can expect 8 dollars returned to the economy.  This conveniently provided an average nodal value for engineers.

It is easy to count the number of engineers on the Quantchain, therefore the only variable left is the ability to assess the value and diversity of the interactions. Quantchain accomplishes this precise objective in several ways:

  • The decentralization of engineers diversifies interactions
  • Dominant game strategy = cultivate a diverse community of claimants and validators approaching Dunbar Number.
  • The Percentile Search Engine assigns optimum probability vs. cost to all transactions. 
  • Individual transactions and collective transactions are readily analyzed.    

Engineering networks can be assembled and subdivided in any number of ways and theoretical values may be assigned to them making the valuation of teams, mergers of teams, divestiture of teams, or scenario testing of any imaginable combination of teams, a quick and accurate projection of network value.

Why This Bubble Is Completely Different

I had a discussion with one of my partners that we need 2.5 million users and Social Flights will manage itself.  The partner said, “You mean 2.5 million dollars”.

No, I said, “I need 2.5 million users”.

The partner said tersely, “No, I really think that you need dollars.”

Again, I replied, “I need users…. “

This went on for a while until we both got it: The value of Social Flights is contained within the users, not within the dollars. After that, the conversation could progress in a meaningful way, priorities found their place, and the teams found their roles – including the investors.

Nothing economic can happen until people get together to build something

Financial analysts are aghast at the magnificent valuations that social media applications are delivering; P/E ratios of 1000, valuations of 100 dollars per member, billions of dollars per billion time hours in game play – these are not the ratios that they teach in B-school.  Is this crazy or does it make perfect sense?

The Great Rapture

While highly unlikely, suppose the Almighty Father called upon all good and pious dollars to ascend unto heaven in a glorious rapture of currency – on a single day, all money disappears from the face of the Earth.  What would be left?  What happens next?

At least for a little while, I’ll still be sitting in this café typing a blog post.  The value of the education and social network of the person who I will be meeting for lunch will still be intact.  The value of the roads, bridges, schools, and highways would remain intact.  The value to teachers, firefighters, and doctors will remain.  The sun will shine and gravity will continue to act on matter.  The money may go, but a LOT of value remains.

No Such Thing As Free Lunch

Of course, things will quickly devolve when I tell the café owner that I can’t pay for lunch because my money has been raptured. Of course that would seem like a relatively minor problem given the fact that their money has been raptured too.  In fact, so has their supplier’s money, and their Bank’s money.  Obviously, there can’t be a bail out because the government has no money either.

Each of us would probably stare at each other for a few minutes until somebody asks the other, “well, then, what do you have that I can use?”  Once that conversation is exhausted, we’ll move on to  “Who do you know that has something that I can use?” Etc.

The mother of all hedge funds

If this were a game, the person that knows lots of people who do useful things would stand a greater chance of being served lunch than someone who is isolated and disliked – no matter how much money they once had before the rapture.  Likewise, if you have a lot of money, what “Bank” would you put it in?  What “Stock” would you buy?

This bubble is different.

It may be that the dollar is in a bubble and the true value of our economy is stored and exchanged in communities of people enabled by social media.  Those magnificent valuations in social media companies may actually reflect true value and act like a huge hedge fund on currency in the absence of any other plausible financial instrument.

As our noble politicians continue to play their game of chicken with the productivity of honest, educated, and productive Americans, they fail to see the polarity shifting away from money and into “true value”.

The value is in the people, not in the dollars. now we can have a different conversation about how to manage ourselves.

Game Over

The first law of Gaming: If you can’t win a game playing by the rules, stop playing the game, or change the rules. It would seem that Egyptians would add a corollary “Change the Rulers”.

This is not trivial.

Billions of people are walking the planet Earth with the nagging feeling that they cannot win their game playing by the rules they are given.  If America was once the shining beacon of opportunity where hard work and perseverance were the main ingredients of success, and Americans are feeling that they can’t win playing by the rules, then you can expect two things to happen:  People will stop playing the game, AND the rules will change.

Interactive Entertainment

Looking on the sunny side, we see Gaming companies achieving astonishing valuations in Silicon Valley.  What is even more remarkable is that a similar thing is happening concurrently with Travel, Coupons, and Alternate Currencies.  Many people stand back aghast at the sheer size of some of these bets; $120M for Tripit, $5B worth Zynga, $6B for Groupon, $50B for Facebook.  The Market capitalization of Apple ($320B) is almost 2 times greater GDP of Egypt ($188B).

It would be foolish to underestimate the value the gaming component – now called “Interactive Entertainment” – as enabled by the Internet.  Gaming is an extremely mathematical science where designers predict the probabilities that a player will favor one strategy over another.  The better these prediction become, the more interactive and, ostensibly, the more entertaining a game becomes – at least to some people.

The Calculus of Gaming

It is no coincidence that the calculus of gaming and the knowledge assets deployed to the gaming industry are functionally identical to financial and marketing industries such as banking, insurance and demography.  Banks set the price of money based on the probability that you can pay it back (credit scores).  Insurance companies set the price on premiums based on the probability that you will experience a loss (actuarial data).  And Demographers predict what you will buy and who you will vote for. After all, a Bank is really just a game that bets that you will win and an insurance company bets that you will lose, and demographics keeps the game, well, unfair.  But together, they all hedge each other’s risk, not yours.

Watch The Integration, closely

From prior articles; The Travel industry is a proxy for how and where ideas are spread.  The Coupon Industry influences human behavior to accelerate the disruptive innovation and to create new value simultaneously. The Gaming Industry will define the rules by which the new game will be played and provide the ability to predict when, where, and how to value social capital. When the integrated is complete, the ability to capitalize and securitize a new social currency (next article) will emerge to hedge, and then replace, the dollar.

Game over.

***

(Editor’s note: The above post is #4 in a series [1][2][3][4][5] introducing The Value Game to a new class of business methods.  The first real world application is Social Flights; a collaborative production / consumption game being deployed to the market.  If this works, the new business method class will be generalized throughout the economy to catalyze the convertibility of social currency.  Please join us at The Future of Money and Technology Summit in San Francisco on february 28th 2011 where we will unveil the work to the technology community)

Tangible Knowledge; Options and Contingencies

In order for knowledge to become a tangible asset, we need to come to grips with the fact that human knowledge is fluid and mobile, whereas a condo or a piece of machinery is static.  A machine can’t walk away if it does not like their management.

With knowledge assets, the typical “Return on Investment” (ROI) model breaks down.  When assets have a mind of their own, there is no reliable way to calculate ROI without somehow corralling the asset inside some form of closed contract, a corporation, political system, social class, or by introducing barriers to exit, etc.  In the modern financial system, human assets are held tangible by debt obligations – today many people go to work in servitude of debt, not in creation of new ideas.

An option* is the right, without the liability of obligation, to exercise a decision in the future.  Human interaction accommodates this valuation model quite readily; it’s called free-will.  Therefore the option valuation model is an adequate method to assess knowledge assets as a means of making them tangible.

The value of a financial option can be calculated if one knows the following 5 variables: The asset price, the strike price, the date of maturity, the risk free interest rate, and the volatility – or, the odds on the bet.  By contrast, the ROI model requires us to know basically the same things; the cost today, the strike price (future sale price), the date of maturity, the risk free interest rate, and the probability of success – or variance of the expectation.  The equation is just a little different.

Individually, human behavior often appears chaotic and irrational, but in aggregate, we know that human behavior is really quite predictable.  If you put similar people together, you get similar ideas.  If you put extremely different people together, you get extremely unpredictable ideas.  If you put strategic combinations of people together, you should be able to predict the variance of the ideas.  This is all the information we need to place a value on our bet.   If human behavior is predictable, it is tangible.

Suppose we enter into a ROI venture and it fails miserably; the market was wrong or the product was wrong, or the people were wrong, etc.  Even though the investment failed, the knowledge accumulated from the attempt can be exercised in many other projects in the future. While the Patent may turn out to be worthless, the knowledge gained by the team can be used over and over again.  Each person gains a statistical data point in their experience set with which to assess comparable situations in the future.  This is an option and this option has value.  If the team were disbanded without somehow capturing the inventory of new knowledge assets, a very valuable set of options becomes squandered.

Some companies such as Google, try not to kill an idea, they morph the idea into something else.  Free-range knowledge tangibility must achieve those same objectives.  Today we see people building networks on Linkedin – this activity resembles the collection of options on future opportunities.  People post on social media to see and be seen by other knowledge assets as a means of collecting more options for their careers or actions. People would not be doing it if there was no intrinsic value.  The next big leap will happen when knowledge tangibility is married to the financial system through the direct valuation and capitalization of options.  Did I mention there is an equation for that?

The Ingenesist Project specifies a method and system for knowledge inventory that would produce a variance for knowledge assets.  The Percentile Search Engine would pull knowledge assets in combination that diversify variance into a highly predictable surplus assets and deficit assets.   The Innovation Bank would match most worthy surplus to most worthy deficit.  As such, the Innovation Economy itself is now a most worthy option for supporting a feeble financial system.

The ROI model is the mother of all squandered knowledge assets – the very same assets that are really purchased on a project, successful or not, are often willfully abandoned.  All of the parameters of an option valuation model can now be met with social media and The Ingenesist Project integration methods. Free-range knowledge assets can then be directly financed toward business objectives.  The idea of an innovation economy based on knowledge tangibility is well within our grasp technologically, culturally, and systematically.

Social media has an astonishing opportunity to integrate social, creative, and intellectual knowledge assets to trade that single most important part of the puzzle, tangible knowledge assets.  I suspect that this outcome will depend on whether these new tools are treated to an ROI valuation model or on an options valuation model.

* Italic used for clarity

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