Facebook buys mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion


#1

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#2

I know loads of folks use that wretched thing. I’ve tried to warn 'em…


#3

Man, for $19 billion they could have gone and captured an asteroid or carved their logo on the moon.


#4

I know, right? Each of those numbskulls is worth $19,000 bucks? REALLY? I’m moving to WhatsAppLand.


#5

$19 Billion is 150% of North Korea’s 2013 GDP - they could have bought a seat at the United Nations. a functional nuclear weapons programme and 24 million starving employees. Hell, the US Mintuteman III programme costs only $5 billion a year to run, so that’s almost 4 years of borrowing Uncle Sam’s button… although probably the US Army can’t be bribed I would wonder about NK - Something tells me that Whatsapp is possibly overvalued here.


#6

It was to neutralize a threat and play in the patent space. It has to be. When mere rational explanations are defied, then it’s some legal headlight on the train tracks or some board room machination. Gotta be.


#7

And lots of artists to paint spiffy Socialist-Realist murals in the company lobby.

“Chairman Zuckerberg arrives at the cubicle farm to give on-the-spot guidance to cheering developers.”


#8

For real? You’re sure that’s not a joke? Time to short Facebook.


#9

I think someone has decided to do valuation by the number of phishing emails they get.


#10

I wonder how many people are in the room for a discussion of the $19 billion purchase price. Not me, because if I was, I’d have spewed guts forward and backwards at the mention of that much money.
“Well, sure Bob, but $25 billion is a touch high. Would you take $19 billion?”
/cue sound of splashing guts/

Here’s a dumb question for the non-business person in the room: Does any of that purchase price go to Uncle Sam? Or is that one of those “we move the cash to Ireland into the bank account of a pedicab driver, then he transfers it in the form of chocolate starfish to Nigeria where it’s reprocessed into Hershey’s M&M’s which are then sold in a small county in Nebraska for $19B, thereby eliminating any sales tax.” Or whatever. Because that’s a fuckload of cash. For one fucking app. Hell, they should have asked for a tank of sharks with fricken lasers, too, because that seems within the realm of possibility.


#11

I think http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Orders_of_magnitude_(currency) should come into play here. We’re between “Annual GDP of Iceland” and “Cost of a manned mission to Mars” territory.

Totally worth it for a name associated with a trusted app that functions almost identically to a dozen free others and could be written by a dozen half-decent programmers over a few months.


#12

WhatsApp is a 18.6Mb download - That’s over $1000 per byte of the iPhone app code


#13

They’re not paying for the programming. They’re paying for the users.

I was first introduced to WhatsApp by an Indian girl I was briefly in love with. She used to make fun of me for never having heard of it, chalking it up to me being “old”. Good to hear it’s really because I live in a (nominal) first world country.


#14

WhatsApp is popular all over, not just in the developing world. For example, it’s how our family communicates with our various friends in Europe (multiple countries).


#15

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#16

Paying for the user base is what I was referring to when I said paying “for a name.”

I was merely pointing out that the product itself is not worth much, hard to duplicate, hard to undercut, etc. Even with network effects, the costs of switching are not that high for most individuals and their social groups as better options arise.

Facebook is valuing the current user base at just over $40/user. At current prices that means it’d take 40 years to recover $19 billion. If everyone on earth (even those currently without mobile phones) began using this app (totally unreasonable), it’d take 4 years (since the first year is free). And if Facebook tries to raise the price, many many people have the skills to undercut them.


#17

Remember the internet bubble?

“This merger will revolutionize the way invisible amounts of non-existent cash are transferred,” said Steve Case of AOL, a company whose actual revenues are a tiny fraction of its make-believe valuation. In an effort to keep pace with AOL, website blairwitchproject.com is expected to acquire General Motors sometime later this week.


#18

I saw something recently about exactly that happening, how a year ago no one had heard of Telegram, then all of a sudden “everyone in Spain” switched to it because it was so much better/hipper/newer than what came before. (Found it: http://www.nukeador.com/12/02/2014/app-market-trends-firefox-os-and-telegram/ )


#19

None of the purchase price is paid in taxes because this doesn’t involve the purchase of a product, and all profits from either company would already have been taxed.


#20

Ya it is what we use whenever anybody is traveling over yonder (for most values of yonder outside of the US). A lot of people at work use it to communicate with their family back home.