Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Fans of the Calcbench blog may know that we often spread news of our posts on LinkedIn and Twitter. So we were wondering the other day: How much revenue do those businesses make, anyway?

Comparing those revenue streams can be a pain, because LinkedIn has been part of Microsoft ($MSFT) since 2016. Yes, Microsoft does report LinkedIn revenue as a separate operating segment; but financial analysts first need to find that data, then carry it over to a spreadsheet with Twitter ($TWTR) revenue data. Less than ideal.

We decided to run this comparison ourselves, to see how much Calcbench databases can reduce that pain. We even included a third social media company, Snapchat ($SNAP), just to give ourselves a bit more challenge. Plus the interns around here tell us that’s what they use these days.

Figure 1, below, shows quarterly revenue for all three companies from the start of 2017 through Q2 2019. As you can see, LinkedIn has always been far larger than the other two, and has been pulling away from them for the last three quarters.

So, conclusion number one: There’s more money to be made catering to professionals worried about their careers, than there is catering to people screeching about politics or posting photos of avocado toast.

That said, we also have some lessons in financial analysis here, since gathering all this data is a bit tricky.

How We Did It

First, we pulled the revenue data for Twitter and Snapchat. That was easy. We visited the Multi-Company page, pulled up quarterly revenue for both firms from Q1 2017 through Q2 2019, and exported it to Excel. Finis.

Step 2 was to find the LinkedIn revenue from Microsoft. We first hit up the Segments & Breakouts page, and searched for Microsoft revenue by operating segment. Microsoft offers a lot of operating segments, including LinkedIn. When you filter for “LinkedIn,” the numbers come right up.

Ah, but wait — Microsoft doesn’t report segment numbers for the second quarter! What gives?

Remember that Microsoft runs on a June 30 fiscal year-end. That means its numbers for the April-June quarter are subsumed into whatever numbers are reported for the whole fiscal year.

To find those second quarter numbers requires an extra bit of math. You need to find cumulative LinkedIn revenue for the first three quarters, and then deduct that amount from the fiscal year’s total. The difference is LinkedIn revenue for that missing second quarter.

Calcbench makes this (relatively) easy. When you see the fiscal year-end total, use our Trace feature to pull up the original footnote disclosure for the operating segment. Move your cursor over that number. A small window appears that includes a “Tag History” option at the bottom. Click on that, and you can see all prior numbers reported for that fiscal year — including the cumulative amount for the last three quarters.

See Figure 2, below, as an example. Microsoft reported $6.754 billion in LinkedIn revenue for fiscal 2019. When we searched the tag history, we found that Microsoft reported $4.919 billion in LinkedIn revenue for the first three fiscal quarters. Therefore, revenue for Q2 2019 must be $1.835 billion.

Run that same calculation for 2018 and 2017, and you fill in the data for our missing Q2s. Then you can compare LinkedIn revenue to that of Twitter and Snapchat.

That’s all there is to it. We pulled together all that data in less than five minutes. After that, all we had to do was write up this summary to post it on LinkedIn and Twitter.

FREE Calcbench Premium
Two Week Trial

Research financial & accounting data like never before. Get features designed for better insights. Try our enhanced Excel Add-in. Sign up now to try the Premium Suite.