The asset and the optionality

Enterprise value is made up of two elements: the asset and the optionality.

The asset is the business everybody knows, and which defines the enterprise in present form, the base.

Optionality is the future possibilities, unknown and probably unknowable.

At the inception of a business, the ratio of optionality to asset is very high, maybe infinite, and this diminishes as the business grows, matures, and takes a shape.

Optionality doesn’t altogether vanish, unless the business does… even the staid electric utility may one day become an electric vehicle manufacturer, or vice versa, which combination may lead to a multi-sided market and a payment platform and eventually a bank… which all started with the lightbulb.

It’s all possible, it isn’t known, at best it’s dreamed about and speculated.

But some assets may inspire greater dreams and speculations than others, which optionality is theoretically captured in enterprise value.

It happens naturally, it can’t be forced.

Matt Levine / Bloomberg