Report: Bill Gates was ‘willing’ to buy WhatsApp too

Avatar By Aaron Sims | 7 years ago

Turns out that WhatsApp had a high-profile list of interested buyers.

Last April, Google made an offer to purchase the mobile messaging app for $1 billion. The WhatsApp owners decided to decline the offer and wait for something better – a decision that proved profitable when Facebook bought the company for a jaw-dropping $19 billion. The purchase became Facebook’s largest acquisition to date, a move that has many industry analysts whether or not WhatsApp will prove worth that much money.

For his part, Bill Gates isn’t sure. According to a recent article published by the Guardian, Microsoft was interested in purchasing WhatsApp too, a fact that the billionaire CEO revealed in an interview this month with Rolling Stone. Gates, who has recently regained the spot as the richest man in the world, with an estimated net worth of over $76 billion, said that “Microsoft would have been willing to buy [WhatsApp] too,” but perhaps not for a price as out there as $19 billion.

Despite his reservations about the $19 billion price tag, Gates also made a point of commending Facebook and its CEO Mark Zuckerberg for making an aggressive move to acquire WhatsApp. Zuckerberg has defended the acquisition of WhatsApp by pointing out the value of the mobile application’s user base, which according to the Guardian article is on track to swell to 1 billion people within a short period of time. Gates agreed with Zuckerberg about the value of a user base that size, and predicted that Facebook would look to expand the reach of WhatsApp by tampering a bit with what the technology can do.

Already, WhatsApp is looking to expand. Though it has thus far existed solely as a mobile application that allows users to send text messages via a phone’s data plan rather than through a separate text messaging bill – thereby establishing itself as a money-saver –  WhatsApp has plans to add voice support sometime in 2014’s second quarter. Gates guessed that photo and document sharing or mobile game platforms would be next on the WhatsApp agenda.

Despite his understanding of how the WhatsApp acquisition could prove to be incredibly valuable, Gates still held strong with his claim that Microsoft would never have paid $19 billion for the company. In Gates’ estimation, though, Zuckerberg is simply just a different kind of CEO than he is; where Gates sees himself as driven by software and coding architecture, he sees Zuckerberg as someone motivated largely by the end products – not by their architectural fundamentals. By contrast, Gates said that late Apple chief Steve Jobs was unique for seeing sleek aesthetics as a main motivating factor.