Text pest: why Facebook buying WhatsApp has caused web rage
23rd Feb 2014 | 11:01
Zuckerborg assimilates future social rival
We haven't seen so many billions of dollars in the news since the banking crisis. The revelation that Facebook paid $19bn to buy chat app WhatsApp was definitely Tech Shock of the Week, as Zuckerberg's plan to build his own self-contained internet moved up a gear.
There were two comments that appeared to be compulsory in every online response thread about the buy - people joking "Ah, but I downloaded WhatsApp for free!" then pausing for the applause and upvotes that never came, plus commenters who instantly claimed they'd be abandoning WhatsApp immediately because they're so super-anti-corporate and edgy.
It also brought out the financial analyst in everyone, as every bloke-with-a-phone did the maths and worked out how much Facebook paid to acquire each existing WhatsApp user, then offered a variety of reasons why it's the stupidest business move since the last time anyone agreed to be bought out by Yahoo.
Zuckerberg invited you to play Casino Banking
One such maths-doer was CNBC commenter Marc Tinkleneberg, who calculated: "...it would probably cost less than 100m to reinvent it. 16bn to buy a 500m user base does not make sense either, as one can suspect that this user base already overlaps more than 80% with FB's existing user base."
More interesting than the vague sums was his anecdote about what his teenage daughter is up to nowadays (steady on), with Marc claiming: "My 15-year-old daughter and her classmates already moved on, from WhatsApp to Viber."
Hope you're not reading her messages, Marc. Sounds like you might be sneaking glances at what she's doing over her shoulder at least, which can only lead to misery.
A little further down, reader Donna_Summer offered a cynical take on the purchase of a virtual asset being funded mainly by shares, saying: "A website comprised of lines of computer code, which manufactures nothing, blows 16 billion dollars on another website comprised of more computer code, which also manufactures nothing. It's like Farmville for the elites."
59 STABS to my HEART
For the opinion of the common man not overly familiar with complicated concepts like maths, we popped over to the Daily Mail. Reader Mutal was busy RAGING about the HIDDEN COST of using WhatsApp, moaning furiously: "On principal, I will not use WhatsApp because they charge for their app in very fine small print when you download their app. The charges come at the end of a year use. And practically everyone I know who uses this app when asked if they know they will be charged for it, ALL have looked clueless or dumbfounded until I get them to check the terms and conditions FINE print."
Dude, it's only 59p/99c. 59p/99c a year. Exactly how hard did the recession hit you if that's such an enormous deal breaker? And who's dumbfounded? Give us their email addresses because we don't believe you.
He's not the Messiah, he's a very wealthy boy
The best story to come out of the acquisition was the fact that newly minted WhatsApp boss Brian Acton moaned on Twitter that be'd been rejected by both Twitter and Facebook for something, presumably an early WhatsApp concept or just a job, way back in 2009.
The fact that Acton is a podgy gentleman in his 40s unlikely to fit in with the self-conscious Silicon Valley set was pulled out as one possible reason for his earlier rejection by some commenters, although being a "normal" man won him some respect over at the Guardian, where Losing_Haringey said: "I'd rather see relatively normal people get obscenely rich than the money-hungry corporate-minded drones that file over the Thames every morning. They've made a program that millions of people use and get pleasure/convenience out of. They deserve the money."
One of us got lucky. Now share the money around a bit, Brian.
Tech Bubble 2.0
We did find one interesting comment that probed a bit deeper than feigned outrage and righteous claims of WhatsApp uninstallation. Over on TechCrunch, reader Daniel Roizman asked: "Interesting to see software eating the world. How is it that the companies that build the phones, cell towers and fibre optic cables that are the infrastructure of the billion+ connected users are worth a fraction of the software layer on top of them? Who's investing in the hardware that will help WhatsApp reach the next billion?"
Vad Dzhabaraov replied with: "Because a bunch of lemming investors give it value by equating 'big with lots of users' to 'has a valid business model and can make money.'"
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