From early stages of your hype campaign, you must condition investors to focus on non-fundamental value related metrics. There are the obvious ones, such as revenue, revenue growth, EBITDA, and adjusted pro-forma operational EBITDA, but I am talking about metrics that are even further removed from actually signaling anything about profits or cash flow. Consider metrics such as number of users, number of units sold, website views, hours listened, number of tweets, miles driven, kwh used on superchargers, etc. The metrics you choose to focus your hype campaign around may be unique to your business model or industry. In fact, they should be unique to your business if at all possible so that investors have absolutely nothing to benchmark you to or compare you to. If you are at a pre-revenue stage you have an even more inherent advantage over your less fortunate, more profitable peers in that you can start with a blank slate and begin to condition investors on meaningless metrics and milestones before cash flow is available to be scrutinized. For example if you are a medical diagnostic company like Exact Sciences, in order to shift focus off your $94 million cash burn rate, you will emphasize how many doctors are signing up to be able to potentially order your diagnostic test. Or, emphasize the percentage of patients complying with the doctor and actually shipping back the bucket of their feces. Whichever metric you choose to condition investors to focus on, it is all in an effort to deflect focus from your cash burn or lack of solid fundamental foundation.
"...we averaged half a billion homes viewed on Zillow from a mobile device. This translated to 200 homes viewed per second, which is nearly 10 times greater than when we started tracking this metric three years ago. To give you some perspective, during the time of this one-hour earnings call, over 700,000 homes will be viewed on Zillow on mobile devices." - Spencer Rascoff, Zillow on the Q3 2014 Revenue Conference Call
"Amazon has released a large amount of data about online sales in 2012, with lots of factoids and vague figures for digital downloads, purchases, and product shipments. And the biggest piece of data revealed by the company was the number of packages it sold on the peak day of 2012.
On Nov. 26, Amazon sold 26.5 million items worldwide across all product categories. That equates to a whopping 306 items per second, a new record, according to the company.
Amazon also shed some insight into ebook purchases for the year. For instance, it revealed that 23 of its self-publishing (Kindle Direct Publishing) authors each sold over 250,000 copies of their respective books in 2012."
"The Amazon MP3 store has sold enough music for everyone at Woodstock ’69 to jam out to another three days of music for peace and love."
"Amazon customers added more than 15 million toys to their Wishlists this holiday season." -- This last one is not even related to anything generating revenue, simply what customers added to their saved wish-lists on their Amazon account. Here they are shamelessly hyping the potential for future revenue.
Any press release or Revenue Conference Call transcript from Amazon will provide a plethora of ideas for you and get your hype juices flowing to assist you in your quest to find meaningless metrics to highlight and condition investors to focus on. None of these data points actually tell us anything about the profitability of Amazon. They could have sold 100% of these items at a loss, but the release had its intended effect which includes dozens of articles written in high profile publications and websites that highlight these meaningless metrics. The amount of press coverage Amazon generates from the meaningless metrics (from an investor's point of view) is mind-boggling and the exposure has a long tail, meaning the coverage goes on and on for weeks/months, perpetuating the cycle of hype.