Facebook sent a shockwave through Silicon Valley and to instant messaging services with yesterday’s acquisition announcement of WhatsApp for a reported $19 Billion.
Interestingly, Facebook stock was on the decline after the announcement in after hours market. Meanwhile, BlackBerry surged over 8 percent, which has since slowed.
Has Facebook’s 11 digit deal with WhatsApp brought a boost in valuation to the likes of BlackBerry’s BBM and other instant messaging services?
WhatsApp currently has 450 million users, meaning Facebook looks to be paying $42 per user. If you apply that figure to BlackBerry’s 80 million BBM users you get an implied valuation of $3.4 Billion. That is nearly 70% of BlackBerry’s current market capitalization.
Though, Chief Investment Officer at Shorepath Capital Management, Scott Wallace, doesn’t necessarily agree with this theory. “If messaging platforms have a value that is higher than what we thought yesterday,” says Wallace, “people are trying to extrapolate.”
“…the value of these messaging platforms is directly related to the number of users. The more users the more valuable it is,” says Wallace.
However, Wallace certainly believes BBM is worth something, but perhaps nothing near what Facebook paid for WhatsApp. “You could also argue that Facebook itself paid too much. So you are using a perhaps an inflated number to apply to a second or third rate asset,” says Wallace.
BBM may not even be among the five largest mobile messaging apps, according to Rajeev Chand, head of research at mobile centric investment bank Rutberg & Company.
Chand believes products like WeChat, Line, Kakao Talk and Viber all rank above BBM in number of users. Like Wallace, Chand also believes an implied multi-billion valuation is unsound.
“I’ve seen analyst estimates for BBM vary between $200 million on the low end and $2 billion on the high,” says Chand. “I would venture to say it [BBM] is on the lower to mid end of that range.”
Has BlackBerry missed a golden opportunity with BBM? The company was greatly dragging its feet to make BBM multi-platform. As a result, other instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Kik, and many more have taken away marketshare.
Analysts claim Facebook looks to position WhatsApp as the next-generation SMS application. Ironically, this was a vision that BlackBerry co-founder and former CEO, Jim Balsillie, had for BBM with ‘SMS 2.0’ as a way to better position BIS with carriers and BlackBerry services on competing OS platforms.
Nevertheless, BBM is where it is now and the history cannot be re-written. But, that does not mean BlackBerry cannot out-innovate Facebook with a more robust instant messaging service, which they most certainly already have, today.