Price Per User: The Surprisingly Average Metric Behind the WhatsApp Aquisition

All your users are belong to us.

All your users are belong to us. (Source: Statista)

Think the price tag for the WhatsApp acquisition is special? Think again.

Via a post on her Napsterization blog, serial entrepreneur Mary Hodder tipped me off to a new perspective that justifies the $16-to-$19-billion acquisition: price per user.

Hodder points to a chart on statistics aggregation site Statista, cited above, compiling the price per user paid for ten high-profile, consumer-oriented technology companies. The figures range from a low of $6 per user (for multiplayer gaming studio OMGpop) to a high of $240 (paid by Microsoft to acquire Skype).

Depending on which way you flip the integer, Facebook either paid $35 per WhatsApp user (at the $16 billion valuation) or $45 per user (at $19 billion). These figures line up consistently with previous high-profile acquisitions, including MySpace ($36 per user) and YouTube ($48 per user).

Facebook’s second-most-recent high-profile acquisition — mobile-first photo-sharing network Instagram, purchased for $1 billion — amounts to $22 per user. Not quite as high as WhatsApp, certainly — but roughly in the same ballpark.

Unlike Instagram, however, which duels in a fiercely competitive photo sharing app arena, WhatsApp supplanted a vast global telecommunications infrastructure, becoming the default messaging platform for nearly half a billion users (and counting), who use the service to bypass the price and privacy concerns raised by SMS, along with the platform lock-in imposed by iMessage, BBM, and other proprietary networks.

In addition to controlling the world’s biggest social network, Facebook nows owns one of the world’s largest messaging networks, providing the Palo Alto company with a windfall of new users, particularly in regions where it’s struggled to gain traction.

Facebook Acquires WhatsApp for Staggering $16 Billion

facebook-whatsapp

Texting: Now worth 10x Youtube

In SEC filings released today, Facebook is acquiring cross-platform mobile messaging startup WhatsApp for a monumental $16 billion, almost ten times the acquisition price of Google’s $1.65 billion acquisition of YouTube.

WhatsApp is a widely used messaging app that circumvents the fees imposed by SMS, along with the platform lock-in on networks like BBM and iMessage. According to the filings, WhatsApp enjoys over 450 million monthly users, 70% of whom access the service every day.

Jan Koum, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO, said, “WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide. We’re excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”

The acquisition is the latest in Facebook’s foray into mobile, following the $1 billion purchase of Instagram, along with its in-house launch of the critically acclaimed Paper app for iOS.

Almost half of Facebook users access the service exclusively through mobile, reports TechCrunch. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s CEO, has called the social network “a mobile company now,” and the latest purchase of WhatsApp signals the company’s redoubled commitment to the space.