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Google bid $10B for WhatsApp, made separate 'odd' offer before Facebook deal was struck

post #1 of 39
Thread Starter 
Before WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook this week for some $19 billion in cash and stock, the messaging service was being aggressively pursued by search giant Google, which reportedly offered $10 billion and also made a unique offer in attempt to ensure it wouldn't be outbid.

whatsapp


Facebook announced on Wednesday that it will acquire the popular online messaging app for $16 billion in cash and stock, plus an additional $3 billion worth of restricted stock units. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he believes WhatsApp, which boasts 450 million active monthly users, is on a path to 1 billion users, making the company "incredibly valuable."

Another company that found WhatsApp worth a considerable sum was Google, which apparently offered $10 billion to acquire the company before the Facebook deal was struck, according to Jessi Hempel of Fortune. And while Facebook's deal comes with a board seat for WhatsApp founder Jan Koum, Google's offer reportedly did not.

But Google's pursuit of WhatsApp didn't stop there, as the search giant also made an "odd" offer to the service more than six months ago, according to The Information. Google was apparently willing to potentially pay millions of dollars to WhatsApp just for the right to be notified if and when it entered into acquisition talks with other companies.

Google's so-called "right-of-notice" offer to WhatsApp is said to be a unique negotiating tactic the company employs to be alerted about potential startup acquisitions. The strategy was reportedly employed after Google was caught off-guard by Facebook's $1 billion purchase of Instagram in 2012.

As of Thursday, WhatsApp ranks as the No. 6 most popular free application available on the iPhone App Store. With more than 5,000 user rankings, it's earned an average score of four-and-a-half out of five stars.

Nearly a year ago, Google was rumored to be well into negotiations with WhatsApp, and was allegedly considering a $1 billion price tag for the cross-platform messaging app. At the time it was claimed that the WhatsApp team was playing "hardball" in negotiations with Google.

Without advertisements, WhatsApp managed to pull in considerable revenue with a simple annual subscription fee. Users who download the application get the first year free, and pay $0.99 per year after that.

Both Facebook and Google already have their own popular messaging clients, with Google Talk available to users of Gmail and other services from the company, while all Facebook users have access to the social network's Messenger service.
post #2 of 39

It just seems to me that Google is buying companies just for the sake of buying them. There's no rational at all for Google buying some of the companies they do other than buy them before someone else does. If I were a shareholder, I'd be upset at this. Its fine to buy a company if you have an intent on using it for an actual purpose to either release a new product, or make an existing one better, but buying one just for the sake of buying it before someone else does is just plain silly to me. 

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post #3 of 39
And it's March, 2000 all over again...
post #4 of 39

Just because you can do a thing, does not mean you should do a thing.  Just because FB could outbid Goog doesn't mean it should have done so.

 

In fact, it's a shame FB couldn't merely succeed in goading Goog to buy WA, since I see little opportunity for advertising profit from WA's impoverished users.  Instead, FB should have let Goog acquire WA and dilute their customer demographics, thus making FB users a more elite group, having greater value to advertisers.  But no, FB is too worried about user-share. So score one for Google in this game.

post #5 of 39
Good lord that UI is hideous. I keep forgetting that's what iOS used to look like. 1eek.gif
post #6 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by macxpress View Post

It just seems to me that Google is buying companies just for the sake of buying them. There's no rational at all for Google buying some of the companies they do other than buy them before someone else does. If I were a shareholder, I'd be upset at this. Its fine to buy a company if you have an intent on using it for an actual purpose to either release a new product, or make an existing one better, but buying one just for the sake of buying it before someone else does is just plain silly to me. 
and where is all the tech user outrage at larger companies swooping up and buying smaller companies just because they can? Look what Google did with Motorola. They basically stripped Moto of the good bits and then sold off the stuff they didn't want. If Apple had done that the outrage would have been enormous.
post #7 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by macxpress View Post

It just seems to me that Google is buying companies just for the sake of buying them. There's no rational at all for Google buying some of the companies they do other than buy them before someone else does. If I were a shareholder, I'd be upset at this.

It seems shareholders are very happy, probably because it is better to spend 10B$ in acquisitions than in buyback with the same final result.

Apple usually avoids large acquisition in order not to compromise profits, especially if the projected profit percentage is much lower than Apple's. But should reconsider and be more aggressive.
post #8 of 39
Wow the Zuckerberg hype machine is in full force today on CNBC.
post #9 of 39
I thought it was $16B why is it now $19B, must be new found Wall Street math.

I as said it stupid money purchase, it is about making sure the other guys does not get the company.

From the looks of it, since Apple has been blocking google access to iOS users they going to try and buy popular iOS apps and some how back door themselves into get iOS user data.
post #10 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by bradipao View Post

It seems shareholders are very happy, probably because it is better to spend 10B$ in acquisitions than in buyback with the same final result.

Apple usually avoids large acquisition in order not to compromise profits, especially if the projected profit percentage is much lower than Apple's. But should reconsider and be more aggressive.
So Apple should do large acquisitions because Google does? Sorry I want Apple to do what they think is best for Apple, not for short term investors that just want to see Apple mimic Google or Samsung or whoever's stock happens to be "in" right now.
post #11 of 39

Anyone using WhatsApp was, by definition, not using messaging options from Facebook (or Google).  I'm not sure how this creates "new" Facebook users.  Many WhatsApp users will likely move to <whatever new messaging app is popular> by the time Facebook integrates this into their "experience".

 

And speaking of experience, there is no way that Facebook (or for that matter, Google) could monetize a deal like this without bring ad revenues into the mix.  So either the ad-free app now gets ads in the bargain, affecting the four-and-a-half star experience, or every text gets read, stored, and indexed to provide targeted ads.  Which was the reason WhatsApps was popular in the first place.

 

As far as the "millions of dollars for the right to be notified if and when it entered into acquisition talks with other companies"...  Creepy Google is creepy.

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post #12 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

I thought it was $16B why is it now $19B, must be new found Wall Street math.

I as said it stupid money purchase, it is about making sure the other guys does not get the company.

 

A lot of times the total "price" number gets adjusted to include the value of stock, cash on hand, etc.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

I as said it stupid money purchase, it is about making sure the other guys does not get the company.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rogifan View Post

Wow the Zuckerberg hype machine is in full force today on CNBC.

 

If Zuckerberg was really all that, Facebook would've developed this internally, not overspent 19 billion on what amounts to an SMS app.

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post #13 of 39
Google only offered $10 Billion for a money-making company?? They have spent more than that for a money-losing company!

Now that Google is feeling all butt hurt, they will likely go out and overspend on something like the Russian KGB's list of "past customers."

I can't see the value of WhatsApp's customer base. They only have 450 million active customers that can afford to cough up 99 cents per year. This group of users find texting each other about the minutia of their empty lives to be the apex of "cool." How fast will this short attention span customer base stick around once something else shiny comes along? What are the important demographics of this bunch of squirrels? It can't be worth too much if the world leaders of "Overspenders Anonymous" only thinks this asset is worth only half as much as the Facebook fratboy paid for it.

Apple is quietly amused by all this hubris over a messaging app.
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post #14 of 39
Thank you, Facebook for stopping Google from sucking everything into its "membership requirement" maw and gathering even more personal info on us.

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post #15 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by John.B View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

I thought it was $16B why is it now $19B, must be new found Wall Street math.


I as said it stupid money purchase, it is about making sure the other guys does not get the company.

A lot of times the total "price" number gets adjusted to include the value of stock, cash on hand, etc.

True, but in this case it turns out it was $19B all along. I had a discussion on this yesterday where I thought I read it correctly:
Quote:
MENLO PARK, CALIF. – February 19, 2014 – Facebook today announced that it has reached a definitive agreement to acquire WhatsApp, a rapidly growing cross-platform mobile messaging company, for a total of approximately $16 billion, including $4 billion in cash and approximately $12 billion worth of Facebook shares. The agreement also provides for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp’s founders and employees that will vest over four years subsequent to closing.

source: FB

Wouldn't that turn out to be 4 + 12 + 3 = 19?
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post #16 of 39

This whole messaging thing reminds me of the 90's when every company had their of IM client but now of them talk to each other so if you had lots of friend and were unsuccessful at convincing them all to use the same IM you have to have multiply IM clients running. Then someone will create a client which will bring them all together for you. Not sure why you need another messaging app, maybe FB bought it to take it off the market so they do not have to compete with it.


Edited by Maestro64 - 2/20/14 at 8:26am
post #17 of 39

What an absurd amount to pay for an app.

 

More money than sense if you ask me.

post #18 of 39
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Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post


True, but in this case it turns out it was $19B all along. I had a discussion on this yesterday where I thought I read it correctly:

yeah I figure that out, but you can not estimate the RSU value, since the value is set on the day it vests. It is a $4B today but if FB price goes up then the value of their $4B worth of RCU will increase. It could cost FB and its investors a lot more. Since RCU are purchase by the company at the time of vesting. FB just made Billionaire and Multi-Millionaires out of all the Whatapp employees. 


Edited by Maestro64 - 2/20/14 at 8:31am
post #19 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by PhilBoogie View Post

True, but in this case it turns out it was $19B all along. I had a discussion on this yesterday where I thought I read it correctly:
yeah I figure that out, but you can not estimate the RSU value, since the value it set on the day it vests. It is $4B today but if FB price goes up then the value of their $4B worth of RCU will increase. it could cost FB and its investors a lot more. Since RCU are purchase by the company at the time of vesting. FB just made Billionaire and Multi-Millionaires out of all the Whatapp employees. 

Yeah, I got that. I just didn't understand why I had to go to a lengthy discussion on the 4 + 12 + 3 = 19 issue. Thanks for elaborating though. Even if the deal is off FB still has to pay $1B in cash + $1B in stock.
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post #20 of 39
$10 billion is so unlike Googs. I would have figured they would bid $12.3456 billion or a Fibonacci sequence. Or just blow $15 billion.
post #21 of 39
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Originally Posted by macxpress View Post
 

It just seems to me that Google is buying companies just for the sake of buying them. There's no rational at all for Google buying some of the companies they do other than buy them before someone else does. If I were a shareholder, I'd be upset at this. Its fine to buy a company if you have an intent on using it for an actual purpose to either release a new product, or make an existing one better, but buying one just for the sake of buying it before someone else does is just plain silly to me. 

450 milliion active users, with projections taking it to one billion active users.  That's not buying for the sake of buying.  Even someone as big as Google would rather pay cash (which it has a ton of) to acquire those users versus growing that user base organically...even though they may have the engineering and financial resources to do so.

post #22 of 39
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Originally Posted by John.B View Post
 

Anyone using WhatsApp was, by definition, not using messaging options from Facebook (or Google).  I'm not sure how this creates "new" Facebook users.  Many WhatsApp users will likely move to <whatever new messaging app is popular> by the time Facebook integrates this into their "experience".

 

And speaking of experience, there is no way that Facebook (or for that matter, Google) could monetize a deal like this without bring ad revenues into the mix.  So either the ad-free app now gets ads in the bargain, affecting the four-and-a-half star experience, or every text gets read, stored, and indexed to provide targeted ads.  Which was the reason WhatsApps was popular in the first place.

 

As far as the "millions of dollars for the right to be notified if and when it entered into acquisition talks with other companies"...  Creepy Google is creepy.

My thinking was that FB was going to use WA to facilitate messaging between FB and non-FB users with the hope of enticing the nons to join FB.

post #23 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

I can't see the value of WhatsApp's customer base. They only have 450 million active customers that can afford to cough up 99 cents per year. This group of users find texting each other about the minutia of their empty lives to be the apex of "cool." How fast will this short attention span customer base stick around once something else shiny comes along?

 

A single app generating a possible $450US million a year is nothing to scoff at. The problem I foresee, is that these people are on this app more than likely because they DON'T like Facebook. That 1 billion user base projection just fell off a cliff.

 

I can think of 3 benefits of acquiring this app along with its users...

 

1. Facebook can integrate its home grown chat with WhatsApp.

2. Facebook can drop the $1/yr fee and just start shoving ads in users' faces.

3. Facebook has access to a crap load of data being passed back and forth; data mining, trend tracking, etc.

 

 

Still $19 billion seems like way too much money.

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post #24 of 39
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Originally Posted by Creep View Post
 

450 milliion active users, with projections taking it to one billion active users.  That's not buying for the sake of buying.  Even someone as big as Google would rather pay cash (which it has a ton of) to acquire those users versus growing that user base organically...even though they may have the engineering and financial resources to do so.

 

We'll never know, but lately with Google they buy something for the sake of buying it and do absolutely nothing with it to the point where the technology is now worthless. I would want to see a strategy for buying a company and not just buy them for the sake of buying them which it seems as if Google has been doing lately. 

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post #25 of 39
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Originally Posted by jungmark View Post

$10 billion is so unlike Googs. I would have figured they would bid $12.3456 billion or a Fibonacci sequence. Or just blow $15 billion.

Not mentioned in the article is that the rumor of Google bidding $10B comes from two unidentified people who may or may not have any first-hand knowledge. Those un-named people might even be analysts. 1biggrin.gif
Edited by Gatorguy - 2/20/14 at 10:50am
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post #26 of 39
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Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Not mentioned in the article is that the rumor of Google bidding $10B people comes from two unidentified people who may or may not have any first-hand knowledge. Those un-named people might even be analysts. 1biggrin.gif

Do you apply equal skepticism to Apple rumors?

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post #27 of 39
Apple should release iMessage on Android and kill them all!
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post #28 of 39
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Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Do you apply equal skepticism to Apple rumors?

Yup. You apparently hadn't noticed before that I generally avoid treating Apple rumors as fact if I even bother to comment on them at all.
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post #29 of 39

Part of the issue is google did not want to put up any of their shares, one thing goggle has been careful about is not diluting the companies stock by issuing new share and especially they are not big on giving out RCU to employee. If you look at what FB did with $4B in RCU they will either buy 60M+ shares off the market to give to employees or they will have to dilute their stock by 60M+ shares by issuing new shares, however, they have 2.5B outstanding share so they pretty dilute as is so 60M is only 2% more stock to the market place.

 

Another example of irrational behavior by Wall street, they should have pounded FB on this, they tell apple to buy back more share so they are less diluted and drive value up, and FD is diluting themselves and Wall Street stand by and will pump the stock up.

post #30 of 39

They didn't buy the app really. It was the customer base they wanted.

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post #31 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by techno View Post
 

They didn't buy the app really. It was the customer base they wanted.

I do not disagree, but why pay for what you already have, i would suspect that a large portion of the whatapp user also have FB account. 

post #32 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by mjtomlin View Post

A single app generating a possible $450US million a year is nothing to scoff at. The problem I foresee, is that these people are on this app more than likely because they DON'T like Facebook. That 1 billion user base projection just fell off a cliff.

I can think of 3 benefits of acquiring this app along with its users...

1. Facebook can integrate its home grown chat with WhatsApp.
2. Facebook can drop the $1/yr fee and just start shoving ads in users' faces.
3. Facebook has access to a crap load of data being passed back and forth; data mining, trend tracking, etc.


Still $19 billion seems like way too much money.
Quote:
Originally Posted by macxpress View Post

It just seems to me that Google is buying companies just for the sake of buying them. There's no rational at all for Google buying some of the companies they do other than buy them before someone else does. If I were a shareholder, I'd be upset at this. Its fine to buy a company if you have an intent on using it for an actual purpose to either release a new product, or make an existing one better, but buying one just for the sake of buying it before someone else does is just plain silly to me. 

Or one may take Facebook at its word. They may leave it as a standalone app and simply reap the profits that otherwise FB was not harvesting. There is no need for Facebook to bring WhatsApp in house and use it to serve ads-especially if the user base is frugal and would abandon the app once rolled into Facebook. FB can be content to grow the WhatsApp user base as it had been growing and maybe up the yearly charge $1.99 per year, generating $1.99B a year when the user base grows to one billion.

Also, since the engineering is lean with this single-purpose app, the profit margin would be immense.
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post #33 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by macxpress View Post

We'll never know, but lately with Google they buy something for the sake of buying it and do absolutely nothing with it to the point where the technology is now worthless. I would want to see a strategy for buying a company and not just buy them for the sake of buying them which it seems as if Google has been doing lately. 

Google's strategy with recent acquisitions seems somewhat clear to me (with the exception of the WhatsApp bid) when looked from the perspective of AI and robotics. They missed the boat on hardware/software integration in CE to Apple and are looking to the future of robots (in which Apple seems to have limited interest). Specifically, they have been acquiring top talent and companies in artificial intelligence, computer vision, deep machine learning, and manufactured robotics.

Google wants to own robotics, artificial intelligence, and deep machine learning. My sense is that they understand that they need to get into hardware and diversify beyond ads as their primary revenue stream. What remains to be seen is if they have the chops to ship actual hardware products (robots, home automation equipment, cars, and drones) that are increasingly intelligent and autonomous. If they can, they will be in pole position for 2020 and beyond.

They hired Ray Kurzweil!

The above helps explain the Boston Dynamics, Nest, Meka Robotics, Redwood Robotics, Industrial Perception, Holomni, Bot & Dolly, and Schaft, Inc. purchases, to name a few. These represent somewhat "pure" robot plays, so to speak, although I imagine each of those robotics/AI systems use some combination of proprietary and licensed software/firmware technologies.

Add the very impressive recent AI acquisition, DeepMind technologies. There's Deep Neural Networks, and Viewdle. There is evidence that Google is interested in both industrial and consumer applications and products. Last, but not least, the self-driving car experiments fit neatly into this plan.

Having said all that, I understand one of your points is that none of these acquisitions mean Google actually will ship a product, perhaps especially because Andy Rubin is at the helm of their robotics efforts.

I need to say that I literally cannot stand Google and I am not applauding them or jumping on the Google bandwagon. They have, however been bringing together companies that have a lot in common and speak to a somewhat clear strategy going forward.
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post #34 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Thank you, Facebook for stopping Google from sucking everything into its "membership requirement" maw and gathering even more personal info on us.

One the smartest comment on this subject.

 

Well said, my friend.

 

P.S. As for me, as I said in another similar article, I prefer sharing my personal data to FB than freaking googlers .... In another word, any company but google can own my data and do what they wish IF that would help to bring down google.

 

 

P.S.S. Larry and The L Team ... you guys cannot win this. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo ... they all are after one goal and one goal only .... take a wild guess what!

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post #35 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Macky the Macky View Post

I can't see the value of WhatsApp's customer base. They only have 450 million active customers that can afford to cough up 99 cents per year.
Apple is quietly amused by all this hubris over a messaging app.

They found 450M people willing to pay money instead of using free equivalents from Google, Apple and Facebook.

Perhaps $1/year isn't that much to you but for such a tiny company $450M/year is great revenue.

However I would guess a large part of the appeal was it wasn't owned by FB or Google who are in the business of selling eyeballs and that unlike iMessage was cross platform.
post #36 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ireland View Post

Apple should release iMessage on Android and kill them all!

I'm almost inclined to agree, but can you imagine how much sewage those poor Apple servers would have to wade through every day?
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post #37 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Maestro64 View Post
 

This whole messaging thing reminds me of the 90's when every company had their of IM client but now of them talk to each other so if you had lots of friend and were unsuccessful at convincing them all to use the same IM you have to have multiply IM clients running. Then someone will create a client which will bring them all together for you. 

 

With the plethora of mobile messaging platforms, why don't more people use multiprotocol clients like imo.im instead of juggling multiple messaging apps?

Edited by d4NjvRzf - 2/21/14 at 5:29am
post #38 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Disturbia View Post
 

One the smartest comment on this subject.

 

Well said, my friend.

 

P.S. As for me, as I said in another similar article, I prefer sharing my personal data to FB than freaking googlers .... In another word, any company but google can own my data and do what they wish IF that would help to bring down google.

 

 

P.S.S. Larry and The L Team ... you guys cannot win this. Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo ... they all are after one goal and one goal only .... take a wild guess what!

 

Facebook just sells this data back to Google.

post #39 of 39
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Not mentioned in the article is that the rumor of Google bidding $10B comes from two unidentified people who may or may not have any first-hand knowledge. Those un-named people might even be analysts. 1biggrin.gif

Quote:
Originally Posted by Suddenly Newton View Post

Do you apply equal skepticism to Apple rumors?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gatorguy View Post

Yup. You apparently hadn't noticed before that I generally avoid treating Apple rumors as fact if I even bother to comment on them at all.

So what did Google say about reports they were bidding on WhatsApp? According to Google SVP Sundar Pichai:
“Whatsapp was definitely an exciting product,” he said. “We never made an offer to acquire them. Press reports to the contrary are simply untrue.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/10662526/Google-did-not-bid-for-WhatsApp.html
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