Twitter users' reaction to Facebook agreeing to pay $16 billion for WhatsApp can be summed up in two words: What's that?
Compared to the $1 billion CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Co. paid for Instagram—which to an American mindset, is more popular—the total sum of $19 billion (which includes $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp's founders and employees) seems beyond the pale to many. But WhatsApp's user base of 450 million is triple that of Instagram and mostly overseas. And Mountain View, Calif.-based WhatsApp charges users a small fee in exchange for downloading it on a cell phone. So it is monetized, and it hasn't even tried to sell ads yet.
After today's announcement, Facebook held a call with Wall Street analysts explaining the multibillion-dollar price of WhatsApp. Analysts speculated that Facebook must not have been the only company vying for the messaging app, and bidding drove up the value. For its part, Facebook said that WhatsApp is growing—on course to hit the billion user mark and providing a service that encompasses the No. 1 mobile activity, messaging.
But check out how the Twitterati reacted to the development:
"You paid $16 BIL for what app?" "WhatsApp" "That is what I'm asking you..." "Yes, WhatsApp" "Which app?" "No, WhatsApp"— Keith Höllöway (@mkeithholloway) February 19, 2014
Facebook buying WhatsApp for $16B +$3B RSUs — I'm at a loss for words! http://t.co/Um2kxrmJKa— Mohamed El-Shinnawy (@shinnawy) February 19, 2014
$19 FREAKING BILLION? THE INMATES ARE RUNNING THE ASYLUM FOR SURE!!! Facebook Buying WhatsApp for $19 Billion http://t.co/OMo9bgcPKM— Sheldon Liber (@ChasingValue) February 19, 2014
WhatsApp has 32 employees and is now valued at more than Sony due to Facebook's acquisition. What can go wrong?— Kevin Beaumont (@NexusFandom) February 19, 2014
NASA's budget for 2014 is $17 billion. Now there's some perspective on that WhatsApp purchase by Facebook for $16 billion.— Nicholas Augusta (@naugusta) February 19, 2014
Stunned still. Facebook. WhatsApp. $19 Billion. Yowza. http://t.co/SwvkkRpdHJ— Jeremy Goldman (@jeremarketer) February 19, 2014
WhatsApp? What's That? And Why Is It Worth $19 Billion? http://t.co/2cBowUrSwM— NBC News Business (@NBCNewsBusiness) February 19, 2014
WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum thinks his company can hit 5B users? And he wasn't laughing when he said it. $FB deal call.— @mdecambre (@mdecambre) February 19, 2014
Facebook pays 19 Billion, yes 19,000,000,000 Dollars to buy mobile app Whatsapp - http://t.co/zIyJhzUo5M— Ulf Waschbusch (@ulfw) February 19, 2014
Facebook buys Whatsapp for $16Billion - does anyone use it? I've heard of it, just never used it. http://t.co/HfNMrNTwXJ— Chet Faliszek (@chetfaliszek) February 19, 2014
WhatsApp valuation sounds insane, but applaud FB's aggressive moves to not be the RIM of social networking.— Adam Ostrow (@adamostrow) February 19, 2014
I rather suspect that $500m per Whatsapp engineer (before RSUs) is a record— Benedict Evans (@BenedictEvans) February 19, 2014
No Snapchat, next up: Facebook to buy WhatsApp mobile messaging service for $16 billion http://t.co/nBh4LCTgsd— Chad Terhune (@chadterhune) February 19, 2014
Now deleting WhatsApp from my phone to stop FB getting my address book— Doug Monro (@dougall) February 19, 2014
Facebook is like an evil parent that keeps finding the new hiding place for your diary. #WhatsApp— Tara Aghdashloo (@taraaghdashloo) February 19, 2014
I assume all teenagers who were using WhatsApp will now immediately leave.— Peter Damien (@peterdamien) February 19, 2014