Yesterday, the news broke that Facebook purchased mobile messaging app, WhatsApp for $19 Billion. While Facebook has made several acquisitions in the past 10 years since the social network was founded, this marks its biggest acquisition yet.
Even for Facebook, this was a major purchase. So why did they do it?
In this post, we’ll dive into the significance of the WhatsApp acquisition (and save you from those cheesy “WhatsApp with that?” puns that we’re seeing from just about everyone else covering this story).
The explanation for Facebook’s interest in WhatsApp can be likened to the old idiom, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” Here’s what we mean:
(Almost) everyone is on Facebook. All Facebook users have access to several features, one of which is chat. Given that Facebook is the largest social network in the world (and also boasts the most engaged user base), why couldn’t they compete with WhatsApp? After all, WhatsApp only does one thing, as opposed to Facebook, which offers many different features for a user to take advantage of.
The answer is simple: simplicity.
When it comes to mobility, simplicity is king. Less is always more. And, Facebook is still learning that.
The WhatsApp advantage is its simplicity. You might call it lack of features, but we see it as a lack of noise. WhatsApp is a single application with a single purpose, as opposed to the a complex behemoth with tons of buttons and menu options. That is the Facebook app.
So that's why WhatsApp won. And, in retrospect, Facebook did not stand a chance. For Facebook, this was a costly mistake, which is now costing them $19 Billion.
My co-founder Gaby and I are heavy users of WhatsApp. In addition to its simplicity, WhatsApp literally connects the world. Our families are spread throughout South America, Europe and the US. WhatsApp provides us with a simple way to connect with our loved ones without steep fees from our wireless carrier. Even Gaby's 71-year-old Mother uses WhatsApp to communicate with her children in the US as well as other family members and friends throughout the globe. The product of simplicity is a beautiful thing!
There are lessons, even for law firms in the WhatsApp acquisition. Are you implementing a mobility strategy at your firm? Which apps are you considering? Are they multi-purpose and complex or are they single-minded and focused?Remember, when it comes to choosing applications that your attorneys will actually want to use, the answer is simple.