Microsoft would have bought WhatsApp too, says Bill Gates, but not for $19 bn

Saqib Shah
March 14, 2014

Bill Gates says that alongside Facebook and Google, his company Microsoft was also “willing” to buy the messaging app WhatsApp.

Facebook eventually bought WhatsApp for $19bn in February, marking the social network’s biggest acquisition.

“Microsoft would have been willing to buy it, too. I don’t know for $19bn, but the company’s extremely valuable,” Gates, 58, told Rolling Stone in an extended interview.

Discussing the record-breaking acquisition, Gates stated: “I think [Zuckerberg’s] aggressiveness is wise ‘ although the price is higher than I would have expected.”

Gates, who co-founded Microsoft in 1975, explained that the community and user base is the most valuable aspect of WhatsApp and that it might start with messaging, but the company can then expand the service to sharing photos, documents and games.

WhatsApp founder and chief executive, Jan Koum, announced at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that the company would be adding voice messaging in the second quarter of the year.

Gates went on to praise Zuckerberg’s drive, but described him as “more of a product manager”, insisting that he was more of a coder starting with architecture where Zuckerberg “starts with products, and Steve Jobs started with aesthetics.”

Facebook’s founder Mark Zuckerberg said that WhatsApp was on track to connect 1 billion people, which is what made it valuable.

Analysts also claim the mega acquisition showed the importance of the drive to mobile from the desktop for the social network.

WhatsApp is a cross-platform text message replacement app, which sends messages via phones’ data connections rather than SMS. The firm rebuffed a $1bn offer from Google in April last year prior to Facebook’s bid.


About the Author

Saqib Shah

Tech/gaming journalist for What Mobile magazine and website. Interests include film, digital media and foreign affairs.

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