So what’s next? Facebook was willing to pay $1 billion for Instagram. So it’s no surprise that Silicon Valley venture capitalists are going full speed ahead to find the next ‘Instagram’. The fact that Facebook is in the market for buying hot young companies is also a big plus sign for everyone. Before this deal, Google was the only buyer in the market, “You really can’t get an auction with only one bidder” Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture says.

So why did Facebook pay $1 billion for a company with a revenue stream of zero dollars and only twelve employees? Simple, it’s the potential. And since they acquired it in its current state, it will be easier to justify big spending to monetize it. Also, while Facebook won’t admit it, Instagram was a threat for them since it gained so many followers so quickly.

Let’s answer the original question, what’s next? Several things actually.

–          Pinterest– A virtual pinboard where users can assemble pictures and bits of online content. Followers can follow other pinboards just like twitter. Key Fact: 2 million to 19 million users in 6 months!

–          Tumblr– blogging service which easily allows for mixed media posts. Key Fact: In Sept. of 2011 the company was valued at $800 million

–          Evernote– Software where users can take notes or save pages and then access them from anywhere, including mobile phones. Key Fact: 26 million users

–          Dropbox– users share and store files easily online. Key Fact: 1 billion files every 3 days are saved on this service

–          Many more startups on this page

So what is next? Which one of these (or others) services are you using which will be ‘the next big thing’?

Are there certain qualities which make a company stand out and show true potential?