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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the It's-like-a-telegram-but-on-a-phone dept.

siliconwafer writes:

"Facebook's purchase of WhatsApp has generated a lot of noise in the financial and tech industries, with some calling the purchase price 'down-right silly' and 'jaw-dropping', and others have said the price is fair, but question the strategy. Is the purchase price evidence that we're entering entering another tech bubble reminiscent of the 1990s? Some say no, while others believe that a bubble may exist only in social media, given that the Global X Social Media Index ETF has outperformed the NASDAQ over the past year."

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  • (Score: 5, Funny) by mister_playboy on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:02AM

    by mister_playboy (2664) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:02AM (#4676)

    FB only paid about $500,000,000 per WhatsApp employee... pocket change!

    • (Score: 3, Informative) by visaris on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:13AM

      by visaris (2041) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:13AM (#4679) Journal

      Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] mentions around 200 million users as of a year ago, so FB paid around $80 a user... perhaps a little less. Sounds high to me.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by TheloniousToady on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:31AM

        by TheloniousToady (820) on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:31AM (#4699)

        Agreed. Especially when you look at the business model and financials of WhatsApp.

        This is just the sort of thing that happens when a single person has a majority of voting shares in a large corporation. I'm not surprised that Zuckerberg would buy such an expensive new toy, but I *have* been surprised that Wall Street would be so accepting of it. FB stock is actually slightly up for the week.

        • (Score: 4, Interesting) by drac on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:32AM

          by drac (1723) on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:32AM (#4710) Journal

          The number most quoted re: Whatsapp's userbase seems to be 400-450MM, which is about double that. YMMV. Honestly, I think WhatsApp was not a bad buy under the circumstances. FB paid about as much per user as Microsoft allegedly did for Hotmail back in 1998.

          Facebook is sitting on a pile of cash (albeit mostly from the current price of their stock). Note that this wasn't just a cash deal - FB leveraged the price of their stock into the deal and set a 4 year vesting cliff for WA employees too.

          Second, Rakuten bought out Viber [bloomberg.com] a week or so earlier for much much less, given Viber allegedly had about a quarter of the user base (I have both installed, use WhatsApp a lot more often - no particular reason, my network has people who prefer one or the other). Did Facebook overpay? Probably. I don't think people dispute that their Instagram foray was a good buy (in hindsight) although the 1B price tag raised eyebrows at the time and was called a bubble purchase.

          Google and Apple buy smaller startups all the time. Fewer people notice those acquisitions because unlike FB, they don't wait until the startup becomes a large, market leading presence. I wonder if Facebook is doing this for the (additional) benefit of keeping their name in the news all the time - the free publicity certainly doesn't hurt their other properties.

          • (Score: 1) by mrcoolbp on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:40AM

            by mrcoolbp (68) <mrcoolbp@soylentnews.org> on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:40AM (#4714) Homepage

            Publicity does n't sound free....

            --
            (Score:1^½, Radical)
            • (Score: 3, Insightful) by drac on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:16AM

              by drac (1723) on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:16AM (#4721) Journal

              I phrased it poorly - if publicity was all they needed, they could have bought that of course. Assuming their strategy is to acquire the userbase and their contacts, all the discussion that has resulted keeps the brand uppermost in everyone's mind.

          • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Maow on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:46AM

            by Maow (8) on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:46AM (#4715) Homepage

            I wonder if Facebook is doing this for the (additional) benefit of keeping their name in the news all the time - the free publicity certainly doesn't hurt their other properties.

            I'm not sure I'd call it "free publicity". They could buy all the superbowl ad slots, all the prime time ad slots, and maybe a stack of AOL^W FaceBook CDs to every house in the western world as well for the $19,000,000,000.00.

            What did Google pay for Boston Dynamics, as an example? I know that BD + FB are not overlapping in any way, shape, or form, however it seems that the Boston Dynamics example provided a lot more value for the buck.

            I welcome anyone's links showing my points right or wrong...

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by frojack on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:53AM

      by frojack (1554) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:53AM (#4693) Journal

      Speculation that I have seen in some financial sites is that Facebook participation is falling in real terms (page visits) as well as percentage of potential market. This is because even the teens have finally realized its pretty stupid to share everything and friend everybody, and are starting to avoid facebook, closing their accounts, or not signing up at all.

      They've moved on, to other services, more for messaging, chatting, and in a more private way than living their life on a bulletin board. Facebook is now haunted by grand mothers and 30somethings who haven't yet figured out that the the cool kids are all leaving.

      Facebook realized this via their analytic, and started buying those places to which the customer has moved. They can't buy the fastest growing alternatives, twitter, Google Plus, etc, so they pick up the picture sites and the messaging sites. You can run, but you can't hide.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 3, Funny) by TheloniousToady on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:20AM

        by TheloniousToady (820) on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:20AM (#4697)

        Facebook is now haunted by grand mothers and 30somethings who haven't yet figured out that the the cool kids are all leaving.

        This suggestion that grannies are always chasing the next cool thing (even if you didn't actually intend it that way) reminds me of the old Monty Python bit where a gang of grannies terrorizes a neighborhood with their handbags. And if those grannies invade WhatsApp, then Suckerberg *certainly* paid too much for it.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Aighearach on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:33AM

        by Aighearach (2621) on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:33AM (#4701)

        Grandmas and 30-somethings aren't on facebook because they think there are cool kids there. They are there hanging out with their friends from HS/college/20s.
        They may not be cool, but they are a good advertising demographic. And they're not going away, even if usage goes down over time.

        • (Score: 5, Informative) by hemocyanin on Saturday February 22 2014, @09:24AM

          by hemocyanin (186) on Saturday February 22 2014, @09:24AM (#4754) Journal

          Maybe, maybe not. Remember MySpace? Interesting graphs: https://blog.compete.com/2012/02/16/myspaces-one-m illion-users-is-more-really-better/ [compete.com]

          Or for that matter, how about GeoCities -- the only traffic they get now is on Way Back Machine. Yahoo paid 3.7 Billion 1999 dollars (5.04B 2012 Dollars) on GeoCities: http://www.npr.org/blogs/alltechconsidered/2013/05 /20/185573937/yahoos-other-billion-dollar-bets-whe re-are-they-now [npr.org]

          Finally, DO NOT miss this link from that NPR article: http://www.wonder-tonic.com/geocitiesizer/ [wonder-tonic.com]
          "Make Any Webpage Look Like It Was Made By A 13 Year-Old In 1996"

          • (Score: 5, Funny) by Koen on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:54PM

            by Koen (427) on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:54PM (#4884)

            Finally, DO NOT miss this link from that NPR article: http://www.wonder-tonic.com/geocitiesizer/ [wonder-tonic.com]
            "Make Any Webpage Look Like It Was Made By A 13 Year-Old In 1996"

            I could not resist (I briefly tried), I submitted Slashdot.org to the geocitiesizer... looks better than Beta.

            --
            /. refugees on Usenet: comp.misc [comp.misc]
          • (Score: 1) by acid andy on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:19PM

            by acid andy (1683) on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:19PM (#4901) Homepage Journal

            Or for that matter, how about GeoCities -- the only traffic they get now is on Way Back Machine. Yahoo paid 3.7 Billion 1999 dollars (5.04B 2012 Dollars) on GeoCities

            I assume you know they shut GeoCities down?

            I abandoned Geocities long before that when the files I had on there became corrupted. I was seriously unimpressed.

            --
            If a cat has kittens, does a rat have rittens, a bat bittens and a mat mittens?
            • (Score: 2, Informative) by randmcnatt on Saturday February 22 2014, @09:06PM

              by randmcnatt (671) on Saturday February 22 2014, @09:06PM (#4953)
              Geocities was archived at geocities.ws [geocities.ws], and you can still get in and edit your page. Thousands, maybe millions of webpages were copied there. My old 'page' [geocities.ws] (I just used it to stash miscellaneous junk) is still there. If you ever had a Geocities account you might want to check it out.
              --
              The Wright brothers were not the first to fly: they were the first to land.
            • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Sunday February 23 2014, @08:15AM

              by hemocyanin (186) on Sunday February 23 2014, @08:15AM (#5119) Journal

              Of course -- the "way back machine" bit -- that was a joke predicated on understanding geocities is dead.

              • (Score: 1) by acid andy on Sunday February 23 2014, @10:20PM

                by acid andy (1683) on Sunday February 23 2014, @10:20PM (#5338) Homepage Journal

                Ahh sorry bit of a whoosh moment. I wasn't sure.

                --
                If a cat has kittens, does a rat have rittens, a bat bittens and a mat mittens?
          • (Score: 1) by Aighearach on Monday February 24 2014, @09:10PM

            by Aighearach (2621) on Monday February 24 2014, @09:10PM (#6182)

            Myspace was doing good work in that area, but they lost out because facebook had games, better messaging, better lots of things, that attracted a bunch of their friends who hadn't even heard about myspace until they were already on facebook. Those two sites fought it out in the early phase of that. Now, "everybody" who wants to stay in touch with their past is using facebook for that. Until facebook does something to drive them away, it is very hard to get whole social circles to move. People might like a new website, and use facebook less, but facebook will still be the only place they can go to connect with their legacy friends.

            A site would first have to be interesting to a large percent of facebook users, and have them signed up, before they can even attempt competition. Google+ can't be that, because so many of the people who like it are already using it for work. People don't want to mix their work and play messaging.

            Maybe in 15 years the teens of today will be using something other than facebook to keep in touch with their HS friends. That will be a Good Thing(TM). But todays 30-somethings on facebook would most likely be 40-somethings on facebook by then.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by TheRaven on Saturday February 22 2014, @10:56AM

        by TheRaven (270) on Saturday February 22 2014, @10:56AM (#4779) Journal

        The most plausible reason for the purchase that I've seen advanced is that Facebook bought WhatsApp with the intent of keeping it exactly as-is. A messaging application is not really a competitor for a social network, but it has a large customer base and the potential to grow into something that is. By freezing WhatsApp features at exactly their current level, Facebook can prevent this. It's not a good long-term strategy, because they'll need to keep buying potential competitors.

        If this is the case, then anyone wanting to make some quick money should set up something like WhatsApp, create some buzz, get a million or so users, announce a load of new social media functionality that will appear in the next version, and sell to Facebook for an inflated price...

        --
        sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by edIII on Saturday February 22 2014, @08:05PM

        by edIII (791) on Saturday February 22 2014, @08:05PM (#4931)

        It's definitely FB trying to stay relevant in the marketplace.

        All of the immensely stupid young people that ditched their privacy for the mass mutual masturbatory practices at FB have had some *hard* lessons in the last 5 years.

        Story after story about people getting fired, refused promotions, forced to hand over passwords to human resources, vigilante justice (really screwing up, pissing people off, and having it go viral), super-critical-cringe events where fedoras spontaneously catch on fire, etc.

        In other words, they are figuring out that the Internet has a really complicated and impressive memory in which nothing ever truly dies. You can't remove your tits from the Internet, and you can't un-say that stupid racist remark that got you fired from work.

        The trend now for what I can see is services that still allow those greatly enjoyable mass mutual masturbatory sessions, but in a way that is far less organized providing a sense of greater privacy (the irony).

        Social networking will enjoy a new growth period when it embraces privacy as the fundamental principle that guides it. Not Big Data and Big Marketing.

        The kids are figuring out. Which is surprising in of itself. It's a push back from the cliffs of Idiocracy, which is a good thing.

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by bigjimslade on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:05AM

    by bigjimslade (212) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:05AM (#4677)

    having bought at the last bubble (2000) in silicon valley, watched my home drop 40% in two years (ouch that hurt), recover over the next eight (yay), then double in the last three (WTF), i would say YES we're in a bubble.

    --
    Remember, Tuesday is Soylent Green Day
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Nobuddy on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:19AM

      by Nobuddy (1626) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:19AM (#4680)

      Buy low and sell high. Time to sell and move?

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Jerry Smith on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:00PM

        by Jerry Smith (379) on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:00PM (#4806) Journal

        Buy low and sell high. Time to sell and move?

        You mean: move to another house that went through the same up&down cycles? Moving only works in a select set of circumstances.

        --
        All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
    • (Score: 1) by istartedi on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:46PM

      by istartedi (123) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:46PM (#4870) Journal

      On the longer version of my afternoon walks, there is a house in the hills above Redwood City.
      I watched them renovate it over the past couple years. It was quite a wreck when they started.
      I think it might have been one of those "leave one wall standing so you can permit it as a remodel
      rather than a teardown/rebuild". So. Unlike a lot of flippers they put some serious work into it.
      It also looks like it might have a nice Bay View, although it would be through the houses and trees
      across the street. IIRC, 2 maybe 3 bedrooms. Not a huge house.

      $1.59 million.

      OK, sure, nice view. Nice neighborhood that I've been told was working class
      up until the 80s; but now is mostly remodeled in a similar fashion. Still though...
      that amount of money, with historical average interest rates is a full retirement
      in many parts of the country. That's just it--low interest rates + all the hot
      money from tech = insanity.

      The interesting thing about that neighborhood is that you can still see
      remnants of the old days, when it was "too far from the city", people were on
      septic, etc. You can spot an old timer because the house isn't renovated and
      there is often an RV, old truck, or VW bus in the driveway. Take a good look at
      things like that in Silicon Valley--these are the last remnants of the post-war
      middle class. They're few and far between now; but they're still there.

      There was another one down on the flats that went through a less intensive
      remodel--gutted to the studs, but no structural alteration. They didn't put a price
      on it. It sold the weekend after the open house.

      --
      Appended to the end of comments you post. Max: 120 chars.
      • (Score: 1) by demonlapin on Saturday February 22 2014, @10:30PM

        by demonlapin (925) on Saturday February 22 2014, @10:30PM (#4984) Journal
        The whole Bay Area thing is insane. I mean, I get that the weather is always perfect, but damn. In most of the rest of the country, $1.6M gets you a 6000-7000 sf house, top of the line furnishings, and some land (1-2 acres).
        • (Score: 1) by ButchDeLoria on Sunday February 23 2014, @12:34AM

          by ButchDeLoria (583) on Sunday February 23 2014, @12:34AM (#5020)

          In my area, $1M flat gets you 70 acres, a 7000 sq foot home with lake house, AND room to refurnish all of it entirely.

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:28AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:28AM (#4682)
    Facebook is only paying [techcrunch.com] about $4 billion cash. The other $12 billion is in massively overvalued shares of Facebook.
    • (Score: 1) by soulde on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:33AM

      by soulde (27) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:33AM (#4683)

      Yes, are 12bi in stocks that are overvalued. But anyway, the new owners of this stocks can just sell all and make this amount of money.

      I believe the 'stock-used-as-money' thing is only to avoid taxes.

      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by frojack on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:36AM

        by frojack (1554) on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:36AM (#4702) Journal

        Avoid Taxes? Nah.
        They buy with stock is because they don't have to go out and borrow so much. They didn't have that much cash.

        See all that Capital Stock [yahoo.com]
        they had in their treasury? These were shares retained when they had their big IPO. Twelve billion two hundred ninety-seven million, sitting in the treasury, all given value out of thin air by their IPO and subsequent stock price rise.

        This is an asset they paid nothing for. They trade asset for asset, because that's what WhatsApp is worth. Who says its worth that much? Well Facebook said so, even if nobody else believed it.

        The market was getting very worried, and Facebook's stock would have started falling because the teen segment is leaving facebook in droves [mercurynews.com], and they are going toward messaging systems like WhatsApp.

        So if Facebook stock price fell to $62,(from its current $65.50) they would have lost more then 16 billion in market cap simply by doing nothing.

        Looked at in those terms, if FB can hang onto those users (and somehow monitize them over time) and keep the stock from falling, spending 16 billion might be a bargain in their eyes.

        Very astute of WhatsApp owners to realize just how desperate Facebook was.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 3, Informative) by RedGreen on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:31PM

        by RedGreen (888) on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:31PM (#4796)

        "Yes, are 12bi in stocks that are overvalued. But anyway, the new owners of this stocks can just sell all and make this amount of money.

        I believe the 'stock-used-as-money' thing is only to avoid taxes."

        The stock used as money is to avoid using money for the purchase and they cannot sell that stock until it fully vests a term used to describe when you receive stock you do fully own/can sell until some later date. They get to roll the dice on whether Facebook stock will actually be worth anything in I believe four years time is what I read in another article.

        --
        "I modded down, down, down, and the flames went higher." -- Sven Olsen
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by RobotMonster on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:39AM

      by RobotMonster (130) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:39AM (#4689) Journal

      Even if the FB shares are worth nothing, it still seems like an absurd amount of money to me.

    • (Score: 1) by mvar on Saturday February 22 2014, @10:42AM

      by mvar (2539) on Saturday February 22 2014, @10:42AM (#4776)

      Even $4B cash is an insane amount of money

    • (Score: 1) by cafebabe on Sunday February 23 2014, @09:47AM

      by cafebabe (894) on Sunday February 23 2014, @09:47AM (#5136) Journal

      If Zuckerberg keeps doing stock swaps then he'll dilute his shareholding until it is less than 50%. The worrying part is that a real company may emerge when that happens.

      --
      1702845791×2
  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:35AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:35AM (#4686)

    The 1990s was a prosperous interbellum; if you want to recreate it, follow these three easy steps:

    1. end the War on Terror
    2. abolish the Department of Homeland Security
    3. impeach Obama for Crimes Against Humanity

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by forsythe on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:39AM

    by forsythe (831) on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:39AM (#4690)

    Certainly. Among the young and hip these days, making a lasting product isn't the end goal (at least from what I see) so much as being acquired by a household name behemoth. Whenever I've heard/seen people talk/write about events in the world of social media and social media applications, the opening line is never "Did you hear about X who built Y that can do Z?". It's "Did you hear about X who built Y that got bought by W for N million?".

    I can't quite remember a quote about the end of Netscape(?). Something about how at the moment the motivation of the engineers changed from building a product to becoming rich and famous, the company died. It seems to me that is playing out on an industry-wide scale.

    • (Score: 1) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @04:52AM (#4692)

      So now the cool thing to do is to sell out? Wow, times sure have changed since the 1990s. I bet Daria would be a disillusioned unemployable loser in the 2010s!

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:18AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:18AM (#4707)

        In the 2010s, Daria is "not a quality hire."

      • (Score: 1) by chromas on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:50AM

        by chromas (34) Subscriber Badge on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:50AM (#4731) Journal

        Wow, times sure have changed since the 1990s.

        MTV went completely to shit (it had its moments with cartoons like Daria and Undergrads) and hipsters switched from getting wired to losing wires. But selling out has been the cool thing to do since the 1980s when Michael J. Fox sold off his DeLorean shares and started peddling hosts files.

    • (Score: 2) by TheRaven on Saturday February 22 2014, @11:03AM

      by TheRaven (270) on Saturday February 22 2014, @11:03AM (#4781) Journal

      I can't quite remember a quote about the end of Netscape(?). Something about how at the moment the motivation of the engineers changed from building a product to becoming rich and famous, the company died. It seems to me that is playing out on an industry-wide scale.

      It's a JWZ quote that Netscape's decline started when people stopped going to work there because they wanted to change the world and started going there because it was a cool place to work. If you interview at Google, try asking your interviewers why they went there: I found about 90% said it was because it was a really cool place to work...

      --
      sudo mod me up
  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by muthauzem on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:53AM

    by muthauzem (2084) on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:53AM (#4704)

    What slashdot have taught me: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betteridge's_Law_of_ Headlines [wikipedia.org]

    But in spite of that, actually "Yes", in my opinion. I would say that the Facebook+WhatsApp stuff is not just "a signal of a tech bubble", but THE signal of a tech bubble. The cherry on the top...

    Of course you can see value in 450 million users. But 16 billion? Really? That can't be right.

    In a market where the next shiny and hip thing will come next week, how can you really spend 16b on something that's just a IM and believe that those users won't just migrate?

    • (Score: 4, Interesting) by elgrantrolo on Saturday February 22 2014, @08:27AM

      by elgrantrolo (1903) on Saturday February 22 2014, @08:27AM (#4738) Journal

      Of course you can see value in 450 million users. But 16 billion? Really? That can't be right.

      I think the 450M number misunderestimates what's at stake here. When you authorise Skype, Viber, Whatsap and any other messaging app to use your phone's addressbook, you're essentially giving ALL your contacts to the messaging overlords. With names, phone numbers, email addresses and companies being merged into contacts, it will certainly make it possible for them to have more data to identify everyone who uses a phone with any other social media network.

      I am relatively anonymous because of a common name and not having many friends on FB, but that ends when the messaging people are given the town, company I work for and all the phone numbers (home, work, personal) as other people fill in manually when adding me to their social networks.

      To me it's very clear that "El Gran Trolo" and other internet pseudonyms will be translated to an actual IRL identity with a browsing and geolocation history. On my part, by keeping Adblock running, I am not rewarding the advertising effort, but that's not a problem for Facebook. They sell the advertising space, not a promise I'll buy something from their customers.

      • (Score: 1) by Jerry Smith on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:04PM

        by Jerry Smith (379) on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:04PM (#4807) Journal

        I think the 450M number misunderestimates what's at stake here. When you authorise Skype, Viber, Whatsap and any other messaging app to use your phone's addressbook, you're essentially giving ALL your contacts to the messaging overlords. With names, phone numbers, email addresses and companies being merged into contacts, it will certainly make it possible for them to have more data to identify everyone who uses a phone with any other social media network.

        And how many of those users are new users? Users that add new data to the portfolio? My estimate is that at least 30% of the Whatsappers had already handed over their data by being on Facebook as well.

        --
        All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.
  • (Score: 4, Interesting) by keplr on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:08AM

    by keplr (2104) on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:08AM (#4718) Journal

    If there is a bubble, it's related to advertising. Any website, system, application, or device which primarily intends to make money from ads is built on a foundation of sand. At bottom is the flawed assumption that targeted internet advertising actually works as intended (I was about to say, as advertised). On open devices like desktops and laptops where users have access to their browser's functions and extension system, we've seen a huge rise in adblocking. On mobile devices ads are even more difficult to do well. The small screen size, user frustration from accidentally tapping an ad and being taken out of their running program, and the privacy implications of a more aware and personal device being used to serve ads have all caused mobile users to be the least profitable audience for ads--despite the fact that ad networks have been selling their services for mobile as the height of technical excellence when it comes to serving the right ads to the right markets.

    Since WhatsApp doesn't rely on ads, I'd actually say that they are more strongly placed than others in that space. The entire segment of the economy is overvalued however, because it's almost all built on some sort of advertising model--and ads are overvalued. We've built some sort of psycho-cultural perpetual motion machine where expectation feeds back into reality: advertising must be working because everyone else is doing it.

    --
    I don't respond to ACs.
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:04PM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Saturday February 22 2014, @01:04PM (#4808) Homepage

      There's no bubble in advertising. It can continually get more and more pervasive.

      Citation needed? Try "Idiocracy" M. Judge, 2006, for a start.

      --
      Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people; the smallest discuss themselves
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Beukenbosje on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:31AM

    by Beukenbosje (697) on Saturday February 22 2014, @07:31AM (#4726)
    Although it should be fun to see how they keep up, close to 10% of my contacts have switched to https://telegram.org/ [telegram.org] in the last 36 hours (starting at 0%). With open source clients, encryption and a promise to open up server code it's a good alternative and doesn't seem worse than the privacy-aspects of WhatsApp. I default to E2E-encryption, just to be sure.

    As far as bubbles go, at this rate WhatsApp will be a even more expensive buy. I doubt investors will appreciate a toy tossed in a corner when that toy costed over 10% of the company. Undoubtedly FB will integrate WA with FB Messenger someday, but without chat-history ( http://www.whatsapp.com/faq/general/21864047 [whatsapp.com] ) (if it's true) they can only have meta-data to analyze.
    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by TheRaven on Saturday February 22 2014, @11:08AM

      by TheRaven (270) on Saturday February 22 2014, @11:08AM (#4783) Journal

      What's wrong with you people? You're using a proprietary communication system from a single-source with no interoperability via standard protocols, and then when you decide that the single-source is doing something that you don't like, you switch to a proprietary communication system from a single-source with no interoperability via standard protocols and a vague promise to open up server code (but with no server-to-server protocol and no promise that they will ever federate their servers).

      XMPP is over a decade old at this point. There are multiple clients for every conceivable platform. You can host your own server or use someone else's, and users can communicate trivially between servers because the protocol was designed for federation from the start. You remind me of someone being screwed over by CompuServe and switching to a BBS.

      --
      sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:22PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 22 2014, @05:22PM (#4877)

        I was going to mod for insightful plus your sig, but saw you are already at 5! Gj, thanks for the info.

      • (Score: 2, Insightful) by lx on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:04PM

        by lx (1915) on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:04PM (#4889)

        XMPP is over a decade old at this point. There are multiple clients for every conceivable platform.

        And nobody outside a small circle of techies uses it. Whatsapp is cheap ubiquitous and offers the same privacy as the SMS service it replaces (i.e. very little from snooping by governments or select corporations) perfect for mundane communications. So unless you're in international trade talks or are plotting to overturn a police state there is nothing wrong with using it.

        It's a good thing to be cynical about and suspicious of the motivations of entities like Facebook but it is madness to lock yourself in a bubble because of abstract fears and hypotheticals.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by TheRaven on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:18PM

          by TheRaven (270) on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:18PM (#4900) Journal
          Most non-techies use XMPP. What do you think Facebook Chat and Google Talk use? Facebook Chat, however, is non-federated (Google Chat is federated, but they've started being a bit annoying about adding new contacts from other servers. Google will even host an XMPP service for you). The protocol works and even Facebook users manage to use it.

          Most non-techy email users use some webmail thing (actually, that's less true than it was with mobile phones and tablets being common for email), but that doesn't mean that email is not suitable for a non-technical audience.

          --
          sudo mod me up
      • (Score: 1) by Beukenbosje on Saturday February 22 2014, @09:43PM

        by Beukenbosje (697) on Saturday February 22 2014, @09:43PM (#4961)

        Nah.. I built my own BBS in MSX Basic before I got onto Compuserve.

        The single-party configuration that works directly out of the box is the reason why apps like WA and Telegram attract a user base and XMPP-apps are very uncommon on the average smartphone. The fact that they scan the address book is a benefit. Would the web have evolved if we had to enter all Web 2.0 addresses ourselves on every site? Nope, pre-configured has big advantages. As the other comment mentions; you're not worse off with Telegram over Whatsapp. If they follow up on the promises, the open source clients are all we need for end-to-end encryption.

      • (Score: 1) by scourge on Sunday February 23 2014, @09:09PM

        by scourge (942) on Sunday February 23 2014, @09:09PM (#5320)

        You sound smart so I'm actually leaving this [about.psyc.eu] here in the hopes that the word will get out. I too had hopes about xmpp but I'm fully behind psyc + gnunet now. And a couple projects I'm working on actually really need it.

  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by lubricus on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:01PM

    by lubricus (232) on Saturday February 22 2014, @12:01PM (#4790)

    Is 19 Billion dollars a lot to pay for an app? Absolutely.

    Is this evidence of a bubble? I don't think so.

    Matthew Yglesias at Slate provides some insight: [slate.com]

    Zuckerberg’s shares carry special bonus voting rights, giving him 57 percent of the votes in any shareholder meeting.
    Structuring Facebook as a personal dictatorship gives its CEO an unusual set of incentives that bias the company in favor of big acquisitions. ... He even gave WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum a seat on the board. And why not? The board is meaningless anyway. Once the deal is sealed, WhatsApp will be part of Facebook, and as such, it will be 100 percent under Zuckerberg's control.

    Contrast that with some other things Facebook could do with $19 billion. A special dividend, for example. If Facebook were to flush a bunch of cash out to shareholders, Zuckerberg wouldn't get 100 percent of it. He wouldn't get 57 percent of it either. He'd get about 28 percent of the money, reflecting his slice of the overall Facebook stock pie. ...

    So the 19 Billion is not the *market*'s valuation of WhatsApp, it's Zuckerberg's valuation of a competitor + cost of additional growth.

    Is there a "tech" bubble? If you look at other tech companies, P/E are all over the place:

    Facebook: 105
    Amazon: 593
    Google: 33
    Microsoft: 14
    Apple: 13

    For comparison, the P/E for the SP500 is around 10.

    As with any sector, high P/E's seem to be associated with perceived potential future growth.

    You could argue that these are very different companies, but that's the point. Pointing to a single acquisition orchestrated by basically a single person's decision, and screaming "SECTOR BUBBLE!" misses
    the diversity.

    PS: if definition lists in comments are supported, they should be styled in a useful manner.

    --
    ... sorry about the typos
    • (Score: 1) by TheloniousToady on Saturday February 22 2014, @02:39PM

      by TheloniousToady (820) on Saturday February 22 2014, @02:39PM (#4827)

      Good points. Thanks for linking the Slate article, which I read all the way through. However, here's a slightly different take on Zuckerberg's possible thinking.

      What if, instead of dollars, you count your personal "wealth" in terms of users? You're already the wealthiest man on the planet in those terms, but you want more. You already have more dollars than you need, which you don't much care about anyway. (I remember reading that Zuckerberg leads a modest lifestyle - how much can you spend on hoodies anyway?) Therefore, it would be entirely logical to trade dollars for users, even at an exchange rate that doesn't make sense in terms of the normal business calculation of present dollars spent versus future dollars gained. Since you have complete control over Facebook, you don't have to answer to pesky shareholders who might be more interested in future dollars than future users.

      In this framework, the fact that Zuckerberg would only get $0.28 for every dollar returned to shareholders is irrelevant. After all, it's the number of users that counts.

  • (Score: 3, Informative) by acid andy on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:25PM

    by acid andy (1683) on Saturday February 22 2014, @06:25PM (#4903) Homepage Journal

    Some economists would argue all the financial markets have entered a big bubble since the credit crunch. It's all fuelled by astronomical government debt and near zero interest rates. We're in economic la la land.

    --
    If a cat has kittens, does a rat have rittens, a bat bittens and a mat mittens?
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2014, @12:10PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2014, @12:10PM (#5158)

      It could also be that almost all the economic gains since 2009 are hoarded by the one percenters and are reinvested in the stock market or moved overseas into foreign bank accounts, and not returned to the greater US economy as a whole via taxes, increasing wages, new jobs, or investing in domestic facilities.

      Until the middle class is revived the US economy will appear to be forever be in recession on main street although we are not in recession on paper.