As with Flappy Bird, when it was announced that Facebook is going to acquire WhatsApp for USD $16B, plus a further $3B retention bonuses, I’m sure there will be a flurry of new messaging copycat apps. With names like ThatsApp, ThisApp, WhatsThat etc.
All jokes aside, before I could unroll my jaw back off the floor at the pricetag, I came across this article from Forbes with the click-baitish headline Why Selling WhatsApp to Facebook would be the biggest mistake of Jan Koum’s and Brian Acton’s Lives.
The author took the examples of the sale of YouTube and Instagram as examples of how founders had sold their businesses, only for it to grow exponentially in value some time later. In the case of YouTube, they sold it off to Google in 2006 for 1.6b, certainly not a small sum, and while YouTube is definitely a big part of Google right now and worth a whole lot more, it doesn’t mean Chad and Steve would have been able to attain the same level of success if they’d stayed the course without the massive resources of Google to back them up.
Another argument he put forth was that entrepreneurs, or anyone really, will have maybe 1 good idea their entire life. WhatsApp seems to be it for Jan and Brian, so they should hold on to it and play the long game. I say $16B is a pretty darn good price for the one good idea in your life. I would go further to say that NOT selling WhatsApp at $16b would be the biggest mistake of their lives.
In this day and age, barriers to entry for any business is getting lower. Anyone can build almost anything and bring it to market at a (more or less) global level, especially when it comes to tech. So yes, Eric Jackson, before you write such headlines, I’d like to see you reject $16 billion dollars.
Congratulations on the brilliant exit. With this acquisition, WhatsApp is now even more valuable than established brands like Campbell Soup, Harley Davidson and American Airlines!