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Should YouTube Go Public? I Sure Hope They Try

I am not sure that YouTube can go public. Aside from comments about “very significant” revenues, the company has been pretty mum on the financial details of its business.

1. If YouTube can’t go public, what web 2.0 companies can?
Perhaps the strongest interest I have in a potential YouTube IPO is that if YouTube can’t go public, what does that say about the prospects for other hot web 2.0 companies? True, YouTube does not necessarily bill itself as the most successful web 2.0 business, the company has certainly achieved a level of stardom that few others have matched. The company has been able to do battle with a lot of the largest companies on the web and 100+ other video sharing start-ups and emerge as the leading (or at least one of the leading) video sharing destinations on the web.

2. I am sure that additional financing from public (as opposed to private) investors would be very helpful
From everything I have seen and know, running an online video hosting business is far from cheap. The more money YouTube raises from private investors, the larger the exit opportunity has to be in order to justify that investment. And if there is no IPO market, beefing up by taking private financing merely compounds that problem.

3. I am not sure M&A is a viable option
I am not sure there are a lot of firms out there who could both afford to pay what YouTube would ask in an M&A transaction and would be comfortable taking on the potential copyright and other business issues that the company faces. It’s one thing to play fast and loose with copyright when you are a private company; it’s another thing altogether when you are part of a public company.

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