Miruna Codeanu

Facebook and the chicken

In espresso on February 20, 2014 at 8:19 am

Facebook, the largest social network. Again? Well, yes, again. Facebook just acquired instant messaging application WhatsApp and everybody is talking about it. Facebook paid $19 billion for WhatsApp and this is the news to create the hype. 19, yes. Yes, billion.

Breathe in breathe out it’s just another day, read your news-feed on Facebook.  Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion. Outrageous. Share the news with your friends on a WhatsApp group. All agree you should find another instant messaging app.  Meh, the world, you should just enjoy your coffee, maybe post a picture of it on Instagram. Facebook – the company owns Facebook, Instagram and now WhatsApp and also just released Paper, another mobile app that some claim to be something fun to use and getting some quite awesome pr and endorsements. Paper will probably make sure those migrating from Facebook because it is too mainstream now, still remain with Facebook via Paper. WhatsApp could be engaging for those teenagers running away from their parents on Facebook. Instagram is for you hipster friends, Facebook has something for all of us.

$19 billion . Outrageous. Well, not quite. Facebook is not actually going to pay 19 billion $ for WhatsApp. It’s only $4 billion in cash and $12 billion  in Facebook stock and stock, as we all know is variable, while $3 billion in restricted shares for WhatsApp employees over the next 4 years. So it is not actually $19 billion going to be taken out of Facebook’s account and delivered to WhatsApp. It is mostly Facebook stock, which, again is variable, but which, however, will probably grow with the acquisition of WhatsApp.

The new “why did the chicken cross the road” is “why did Facebook buy WhatsApp”? So, why did Facebook buy WhatsApp?

Claim no1:  Facebook didn’t actually buy WhatsApp, Facebook bought its users. Partially aggree. Facebook is already the world’s largest social network, it probably already covers WhatsApp users, and you see, WhatsApp, is not even that fun. We’ve been early adopters of WhatsApp, using it because it is basic, it has no advertising and we can create groups and share whatever we want to share. Are we engaged with WhatsApp? No, not really, we’d find some other app and we don’t share much besides “meet you there”, “this is awesome”, “we should go here” and “whatsapp was bought by facebook”. Whereas, think about it: a Facebook shutdown. What would you do? Yes, yes, I know, Facebook is crappy and it will fail, but every time Facebook experiences a technical problem, everybody is running to the other social media service complaining about Facebook. Engagement? No, addiction. There were reports about teenagers running away from Facebook because parents were beginning to use Facebook. Agree. The average age for the Facebook user is on the rise. Could it be that some teenagers are using WhatsApp? Could be, that it is a reminiscence of what Mirc was for my generation. However, $ billion for a bunch of teenagers is a bit too much.

Claim no2: Facebook bought WhatsApp for its technical staff. No. Sorry guys, your explanation is rejected.  The guy who invented the hackathon as a recruitment method will not pay $19 billion for a bunch of engineers. Human resources are valuable, but Zuckerberg knows its way when it comes to recruiting.

Facebook says: “The acquisition supports Facebook and WhatsApp’s shared mission to bring more connectivity and utility to the world by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably.” Also, Zuckerberg thinks WhatsApp is on its path to 1 billion users. Another billion people target for Facebook. ‘The combination of WhatsApp and Facebook will allow us to connect many more people round the world,’ Zuckerberg said. Allright, mission, vision, spice and everything nice but we all want to grow, our dreams, our companies.

Why did the chicken cross the road after all? We’re all forgetting something. When we’re reffering to Facebook we keep thinking about it as the company who owns Facebook. But Facebook, is no longer just about Facebook. Like Google is not just about its searchg  engine. Google is also Youtube, Google is also about Google Maps and Google Plus. When you ask “why did the chicken cross the road?” you think the final destination for that chicken is crossing the road, but no, crossing the road is just a part of a longer trip, that trip is called a strategy and crossing some road is a part of a bigger strategy. What’s the importance of WhatsApp for Facebook Inc? Facebook needs to keep its users within its company and engage them all even though with different apps or platforms. Facebook needs to create the online experience and later on integrate it. Remember some time ago I was basically yelling: Google, integrate, integrate, it’s your biggest chance? I wasn’t probably the only one believing this, since Google started to integrate everything from your Youtube username to your email address linked to a GPlus account. But until then, Google grew each product on its own to engage its users, which is probably the reason why Zuckerberg insists so much that each acquired product will maintain its independence and will not be integrated with Facebook.

The chicken crossed the road. Facebook Inc. bought WhatsApp for $19 billion. Outrageous? No. Facebook Inc is a company, not a social media platform. Facebook owns a few more social media apps. Facebook will keep all these independent until their consumers are engaged enough to merge them. Facebook must have something to offer to all of us, because we, as users, are valuable resources to the company. Facebook needs longitudinal and latitudinal growth, after these two happen, they will be unified to make sense in what will probably be the next biggest, most integrated social network. Until then, you will probably see advertising on WhatsApp.


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