Mike Daniels Talk and Facebook’s Purchase of WhatsApp

I am looking forward to Mike Daniels’ upcoming talk about the commercialization of the Internet, which is scheduled to take place on Tuesday evening, February 25, 2014 at the UCSD Rady School here in La Jolla. Mike will also be signing copies of our book Names, Numbers, and Network Solutions at the event.

Although RSVPs were due on February 20th, if you’re interested in attending, I suggest that you contact the Rady School event planners to see if they can find you a seat. I hope to see you there.

* * *

I was interested to learn about Facebook’s recent purchase of WhatsApp, a company with just 50 employees, for $19 billion. According to the articles I have read about the acquisition, Facebook is not buying the company’s technology, which other companies also offer, but instead it is buying the company’s half-billion-or-so person strong user base, many of whom reside outside the United States.

Although the $19 billion price for WhatsApp has heads spinning in the Silicon Valley, I am reminded that in 2000 we sold Network Solutions to VeriSign for $19.3 billion, or about $26 billion in 2014 inflation-adjusted dollars. As some observers will recall, that deal was sealed just a few days before the Nasdaq reached its all-time intraday high of 5132.52, a number that hasn’t been seen again as the air quickly leaked out of the dot-com bubble and the index hit a low of 1108.49 in October 2002.

Are we in a new Internet technology bubble? The extraordinarily high valuations of companies such as WhatsApp seem to indicate that history may be in the process of repeating itself. We’ll know for sure within the next year.

, Bob