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Facebook the Social Media Cronus
Published on 02 Jul 2019
In 2012, Facebook made its biggest and most ambitious acquisition that could possibly position the company as a social media monopoly. It purchased Instagram. At the time, Instagram was an emergent platform that had massive potential to replace Facebook as everyone’s most preferred social network. In 2012 the platform had over 40 million users with an average of 10 million new users each month. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg saw that potential and he sought to manipulate it. He purchased the company for 1 billion dollars. The move shocked the world. What plans did Facebook have for the platform, would it merge with Instagram and would there be new features? But Zuckerberg was not done yet.
In 2014, Facebook made perhaps its biggest acquisition yet by purchasing WhatsApp for $19 billion. At the time, WhatsApp was a relatively new platform with about 200 million users most of them from Asia and Africa. So what pushed Zuckerberg to make this expensive purchase? Was he motivated by the fear that WhatsApp was getting considerably famous, or was he motivated by a lust for power and to gain a stronghold over the social media space?
Zuckerberg’s intentions seemed a bit clear when in 2013, he tried to purchase Snapchat, at the time a budding start up. Snapchat had managed to pique user’s interest by appealing to a younger demographic using catchy features such as filters. Young people flocked to the platform to explore these new filters. Meanwhile, Zuckerberg focused on getting Instagram to peak performance status. He introduced stories (a feature that allows users to share pictures and videos that disappear after 24 hours) plus attempted albeit unsuccessfully to introduce filters.
It seems that Snapchat was “the one that got away” for Mark Zuckerberg because as recently as 2016, he still had intentions to purchase the company, which Spiegel declined yet again. The next year, Snapchat went public. It seemed that Snapchat had a bright and promising future, but that didn’t last long. According to The Journal, Snapchat has faced many setbacks since it went public, including a botched app redesign, the departure of key executives, and users leaving by the millions.
The Fall of Snapchat?
In 2018, snapchat had a very difficult year, it was losing users daily due mostly from the app redesign which made navigation very difficult for most users. The redesign was hated so much there was an online petition against it. Many of these defectors headed straight for Instagram, it already had “stories” which had made Snapchat so popular. It seemed that Snapchat was headed for disaster. But in early 2019, it redeemed itself, it changed the unpopular design and promised a redesign for Android users. So it seems that Snapchat may be in the black, for now at least. The company's interim CFO, Lara Sweet, said Snapchat is "cautiously optimistic" about future growth going into the next quarter. Sweet didn't provide any specific numbers, but said the company isn't anticipating another decline. This could mean that Zuckerberg may put off trying to buy the company. Probably.
The plot to buy Twitter.
Snapchat wasn’t the only platform that Zuckerberg tried and failed to acquire; in 2008, they tried to acquire Twitter, at the time it had only 11 million users. It wasn’t as popular as Facebook was but it had potential, and Mark sought to take it. He approached CEO, Jack Dorsey but before a formal meeting could be made, Dorsey was ousted by his fellow co-founders. Zuckerberg then approached the other co-founders and invited them for a meeting at Facebook. His intention was to begin the process that was to make him the owner of the platform then valued at $500 million. The founders didn’t sell, they felt that $500 million was too little compared to what they believed it could be. Now the company is worth over 4.4 billion dollars and boasts over 328 million users as of 2017 reports.
Zuckerberg has developed a penchant for acquiring companies his motive seems a bit clearer with each failed or successful acquisition. It is obvious to many that he seems to want to be the “social media king” by absorbing the competition and though many companies have stayed strong it is very difficult to say no to a billion dollar offer especially if you are a budding startup.