Update: Renren since “revised” their numbers to say they added 2 million in the 4th quarter 2010 and 5 million in the 1st quarter 2011. I’m still hearing from many in the industry who think they’re traffic is likely declining. This “revision” certainly does not instill me with faith in their sketchy numbers.

By far the most surprising finding in Renren’s F-1 filing for IPO? After two years of sluggish growth (Dec 2008-Dec 2010), Renren claims explosive active user growth over the last 3 months to the end of March 2011. It claims to have added as many active users over the past 3 months as it did the previous two years (7 million monthly active users (MAU)):

The number of renren.com’s activated users increased from approximately 33 million as of December 31, 2008 to approximately 110 million as of December 31, 2010, and our monthly unique log-in users increased from approximately 17 million in December 2008 to approximately 24 million in December 2010. In March 2011, we had approximately 31 million monthly unique log-in users. (Renren F-1 filing)

If Renren continued that torrid growth pace (adding 7 million MAU every 3 months), it would more than double its active user base in 2011.

Meanwhile, Renren’s registered users (what Renren calls activated users) appear to remain steady the entire stretch:

From January 2011 through March 2011, we added an average of approximately two million new activated users per month.

Alexa is inconclusive on this point, with a modest uptick over the past few months (meanwhile Kaixin001 is in steady decline–but also planning to IPO soon!).

Could this in fact be a surge in Renren’s popularity? Just a seasonal difference (less usage in December and more in March)? Or just a reflection that all of Renren’s log-in numbers are “approximate”? A massaging of the “approximate” numbers for the IPO?

None of my contacts in the tech industry report a surge in Renren’s popularity (if anything the opposite), but chime in if you know different.

Traffic to the Renren social network is after all the goose that lays the golden eggs–the rich profits from advertising, gaming, and perhaps in the future, group-buying too.

 

 

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  • Flatbox

    Maybe this post should have been titled “Is Renren lying about its traffic in its IPO filing?”

  • Kai Lukoff

    Renren since “revised” their numbers to say they added 2 million in the 4th quarter 2010 and 5 million in the 1st quarter 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704729304576286903217555660.html
    still hearing from many in the industry who think they’re traffic is likely declining. This “revision” certainly does not instill me with faith in their sketchy numbers.

  • http://twitter.com/benjaminjoffe Benjamin Joffe

    One should graph the valuation increase vs. number of “activated users” (what is this metric anyway? is this “active” users? is this “verified email”?) – adding 7 million in 2 years since Dec 2008 is not exactly impressive.

    • http://www.kailukoff.com Kai Lukoff

      agreed, I think user growth is sluggish even if the numbers are to be trusted. My understanding is “activated users” is Renren’s fancy way of saying registered users (maybe they have to verify their email as you say). that isn’t stopping the IPO from soaring out of the gate though.