That’s Billion, With a B

Facebook just agreed to buy WhatsApp for $16 Billion. That’s one billion, this many times:

Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion Billion

When you add the other Billion Billion Billion for current What’s App employees, it comes to $19 Billion.

Just for fun, let’s look back at some previous tech acquisitions you may have remembered:

  • Amazon buys Zappos. Sale Price: $1.2 Billion. Year: 2009
  • AOL buys Netscape. Sale Price: $4.2 Billion. Year: 1998
  • eBay buys PayPal. Sale Price: $1.5 Billion. Year: 2002
  • eBay buys Skype. Sale Price: $2.6 Billion. Year: 2005
  • Yahoo buys Geo Cities. Sale Price: $3.6 Billion. Year: 1999
  • Yahoo buys Broadcast.com. Sale Price: $5.7 Billion. Year: 2001
  • Microsoft buys aQuantive. Sale Price: $6 Billion. Year: 2007
  • Oracle buys Peoplesoft. Sale Price: $10.3 Billion. Year: 2004
  • Facebook buys Instagram. Sale Price: $1 Billion. Year: 2013
  • Google buys YouTube. Sale Price: $1.65 Billion. Year: 2006
  • Google buys Double Click. Sale Price: $3.1 Billion. Year: 2008
  • Google buys Nest. Sale Price: $3.2 Billion. Year: 2014
  • Google buys Waze. Sale Price: $.96 Billion. Year: 2013
  • Google buys Wildfire. Sale Price: $.45 Billion. Year: 2013
  • Google buys Motorola Mobility. Sale Price: $12.5 Billion. Year: 2011

For one thing, it’s fun to look at what deals happened right before bubbles. It’s also fun to see that some of these deals look like bargains now, while some were just busts.

So give or take a billion or so, Google ended up with Nest, Waze, Wildfire and Motorola Mobility for the same price Facebook got Instagram and WhatsApp. Time will tell where the money was better spent.

Another way to analyze the deal is on a cost per user basis. From what I have read, WhatsApp has 450 Million Monthly Active Users (MAU). So at $19 Billion, that’s roughly $42 per user. Obviously Facebook thinks the lifetime value of each user is more than $42, which certainly seems reasonable. So from that angle, disregarding all other benefits of the deal (synergies, defensive play, talent, etc…) it could make sense.

So what about Snapchat? We all scoffed when Snapchat turned down $3 Billion from Facebook, wondering how they could think they were 3x as valuable as Instagram. Well, I can’t tell what this means for them. Certainly they are worth more than 16% of WhatsApp, aren’t they? Or is there enough overlap between WhatsApp and Snapchat users that they just saw their entire market value dry up? Again, only time will tell.

But $16 Billion is a lot of money no matter what. I think we are all on bubble watch now.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *