I find Facebook’s $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp to be incredibly depressing. While you can argue that Facebook is paying “only” $42 for each of WhatsApp’s 450 million plus users, paying $19 billion for a 55 employee company that runs a messaging app just smells … very wrong.
The first thought that comes to mind is, Facebook – why couldn’t you have figured this out yourself? This isn’t rocket science. Facebook has evolved into a bloated mess that ignores the concepts of usability. I see little resemblance between my desktop, iPhone, and iPad Facebook experiences. Facebook doesn’t guarantee that your friends will see your posts (in fact EdgeRank guarantees that most of your friends won’t see your posts) so now you have the added insult of Facebook asking you to pay to ensure that your posts will be seen. I don’t even enjoy using Facebook anymore. So why be surprised that people prefer to send simple messages instead of wrestling with Facebook’s awkward and ad riddled mobile solutions? It just shouldn’t cost 19 billion dollars to figure out the problem and find a way forward.
Second, spending this much money to buy a messaging app just isn’t that exciting. It’s boring in fact (the only exciting aspect is that $19 billion were spent). I hear Safeway Supermarkets is also for sale. That’s not thrilling either, but people spend more than a dollar a year in a supermarket. How about going for Safeway next, Facebook?
Third thought is that this week we also heard of Apple talking with Tesla. Now that’s exciting – change the world kind of exciting! The contrast of what the world would gain from a merger or collaboration between Apple and Tesla, vs. what the world will get from one between Facebook and WhatsApp is, well, depressing. Apple’s stock price can’t get a break - despite solid reasons why it is undervalued – yet the media goes nuts over this inane acquisition.
Fourth and final thought is the juxtaposition of Facebook’s buying excess with the current downturn in Bitcoin. With Mt Gox trading at around $100 and the other exchanges under $600, I can’t help rooting for the underdog crypotocurrency with its massive potential for disruption to succeed, while not so secretly hoping to see Facebook’s stock price take a deep dive.
I don’t hold any Facebook stock, but if I did I’d put it all on Bitcoin.