$19 billion is not pocket change, as a recent Tumblr account was quick to point out shortly after Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp. According to their math, Zuckerberg could have opted to purchase a colony on Mars, an MMR vaccine for every child on the world, AND the 50 most expensive paintings ever sold. Zuckerberg could also have opted for a large hadron collider and still had $8 billion left over as spending money.


So, why spend so much for WhatsApp? Zuckerberg insists that WhatsApp is worth more than the $19 billion he paid for it. The app currently serves more than 450 million users, and Zuckerberg believes it has the potential to reach one billion.


(Related: Facebook’s Next Step to Conquer Mobile )


Jenna Wortham at The New York Times focused on how the personal and intimate connection of WhatsApp offers services that a Facebook news feed does not. Wortham interviewed Susan Etlinger, an analyst with Altimeter Group who studies social technologies. Etlinger said, “Facebook and Twitter may have been able to connect people, [but] they have ‘evolved into a news feed,’ one that is increasingly clogged by advertisements, brands and near-strangers, all competing to be seen and heard.”


In purchasing WhatsApp, Facebook has acquired a new type of information that they did not possess before: address books. In obtaining this information, Facebook has now positioned themselves to not only be a platform for overreaching status updates and news posts, but also as a platform for intimate connections between individuals who are trying to have conversations on a more personal level.


Mark Zuckerberg Attends Mobile World Congress

Mark Zuckerberg speaks at the Mobile World Congress (David Ramos/Getty Images)

Zuckerberg gave a keynote speech and hosted the top dinner of the week at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress this week, an event usually controlled by network service providers. Network providers are unnerved by Zuckerberg’s purchase; Zuckerberg has just added 450 million new users to his network that already boasted one billion users beforehand.



In its current state, WhatsApp already offers all the texting options (text, photo, video, and audio) that phone companies provide for their subscribers. WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum has announced that the service will soon be offering voice calls free of charge as well, and stated that its number of daily users has increased by 15 million since Facebook’s announced purchase the previous week. Pair all this information with Zuckerberg’s goal to provide billions of people around the world with free internet. Suddenly, both the $19 billion purchase and the uneasiness of mobile providers does not seem too unreasonable.


It’s definitely a better investment than 2.2 billion toilet brushes.


What do you think? Please leave your opinion in the comments section below or tweet me @dannystevens91 with any thoughts.