What threat could Brexit pose to internet giants?

Why Brexit may impact Google, Facebook and Netflix

As the Dow plummets and investors look for safe havens, the spotlight has shone on some of the fastest-growing internet names, such as Facebook, Netflix and Google.

Needham's Laura Martin issued a note on the heels of the Brexit vote, pointing out the risk and uncertainty the decision brought for internet giants' growth rates and valuation multiples.

Martin pointed to the fact that just 200 million of Facebook's one billion daily users were in the U.S. That could spell challenges when translating those growing overseas revenue streams into a strengthening dollar.

"Netflix is also at risk because all of their growth story and capital investment is offshore," Martin wrote. With Netflix trading at 82 times estimated 2016 EBITDA, falling profit on either slowing demand or currency translation would hurt the company's stock.

And then there was the uncertainty about how regulations would change in the U.K., as well as in the EU, a hugely important issue for Google and others. It was Great Britain that got credit for pushing the EU to take a lighter touch when it comes to tech regulation. The U.K'.s exit of course raised concerns that the EU would take a much stiffer approach to regulations on how companies such as Google handled personal data.

The U.K.'s Data Protection Act would remain in force, according to the U.K.'s Information Commissioner's Office; the EU's tougher General Data Protection Regulation won't apply in the U.K. But that did not mean that tech companies operating in the U.K. were off the hook: But the U.K., even though it won't be part of the EU, would have to reform its privacy laws so data could cross borders without issue. The concern was that there's no clarity of what these exactly what regulations would look like.

So where are the safe havens? Global Equities Research pointed to as among the least affected because it had long-term contracts in place, a mature subscription model, and nothing produced in Britain.