Advertisement

Why investors think Reddit is worth $1 billion more than The New York Times

Reddit logo with dollar signs for eyes and flag of The New York Times in the background.
For now, investors think Reddit is worth more than The New York Times Co.Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images; Chelsea Jia Feng/BI
  • Reddit, which loses money, is currently worth about $8.15 billion.

  • The New York Times, which makes money, is worth about $7.2 billion.

  • That's because investors love Reddit's business model, which depends on free content from its users.

Pop quiz!

Which media company is more valuable? One that generated $800 million in revenue last year and lost $90 million?

Or one that brought in $2.4 billion and made a $232 million profit?

Pencils down: For now, the winner is the money loser. That would be Reddit, the message board that went public last week and has a market cap of $8.15 billion.

Meanwhile, the media company that actually makes money is The New York Times. As I'm typing this, it's worth $7.2 billion.

The obvious caveat here is that Reddit's stock is subject to all kinds of price swings. On Thursday, when the company went public, its shares soared by nearly 50%; on Friday, they sank by 9%. On Monday, they zoomed up again, gaining 17%. It's going to take some time for the market to reach a consensus about what Reddit is really worth.

This is also not the first time some dimwit has compared the value of the Times to a tech-driven upstart competing for readers' time and advertisers' money: Back in 2009, I noted that the content farm Demand Media was supposedly worth at least $1.5 billion when the Times was worth $1.3 billion.

Turns out that the Times, whose future seemed very much in doubt back then, ended up thriving. Demand, whose business model was crushed by changes in Google's algorithm, went in the opposite direction.

But if you're running a media business, you understand precisely why investors are more excited about Reddit than the Times: The Times spends lots of money to make the content that readers and advertisers pay for. Reddit gets all of it for free, from its users.

That shows up in the companies' financials when you compare their cost of revenue: Last year, the Times spent $1.25 billion — 51% of its total revenue — producing and distributing all the stuff you can find via its website, apps, and print edition. By the end of last year, Reddit's cost of revenue was just 12% — mostly money it paid other people for hosting its site and app.

And while the Times has done an admirable job of transforming its business model — it now relies on paying readers instead of fickle advertisers and has diversified beyond news to products like recipes and games — it's always going to have to spend more to make more stuff.

But Reddit's pitch is that its flow of free content will always be there and that it will get better at selling ads. And that, for the moment, is a pitch investors want to hear.

Read the original article on Business Insider