Well, no surprises there – I am baffled by the amount for which WhatsApp traded to Facebook, a whopping $21.8 billion at close. To put that in perspective, according to IMF 2013 data, 55 countries in the world operate at GDPs less than that amount. Billion users you say, 1/7th the world population. Now that is meaningful. But let me introduce you to Viber, an app that has the same capabilities as Whatsapp and much more. Viber not only allows you to text over wifi for free, but also lets you call for FREE over wifi (or mobile data), a new strategy that T-Mobile is just bringing into market supposedly as an outstanding value proposition over its competitors.
With 400 million users and growing, Viber should in simple math then at least be valued at ~$9 billion. Rakuten, the Japanese internet giant equivalent to the eBays of the world, paid $900 million. What?! Viber’s monetization strategy is not strong people said and Rakuten’s stock dropped by 9.5 percent on this news. Funny, WhatsApp is now operating at a net loss of $230 million with pretty much no “paradigmical” monetization strategy either.
As an avid user of the two, thanks to all my international friends and family, I can tell you that other than a later launch date and a little behind in penetration because of that factor, WhatsApp has absolutely no additional value prop for its users over Viber. Here’s the kicker, almost none of my American friends and acquaintances have even heard of Viber. An earlier launch date (2009 vs Viber’s 2012) and some strong marketing on WhatsApp’s end must have made their equity holders very happy campers.
"If you ain't first, you're last" - Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights