But WhatsApp is more than that. The company boasts about having half a billion active users and is growing that number by a million per day. At that rate, WhatsApp will reach two billion active user within two years. It would have done this faster than Facebook. Considering that the company has developed the capability to offer voice calls in a couple of months, Facebook has just bought another means of user monetization.
It's easy to criticize Facebook here because we have no way of knowing if it was in a bidding war with, say, Google (GOOG). Do you not suppose perhaps Amazon (AMZN) or Microsoft (MSFT) might have been interested?
Along those same lines, in 2006 I recall several critics attacking Google for its $1.65 billion deal for YouTube. Eight years later, YouTube is the second-most-visited site on the Internet.
More than anything, what aggravates me about these critics is how Facebook has always gotten blasted for its weak mobile monetization. Now that the company is looking to leverage its recent mobile progress, it gets beaten up for that as well. You can't have it both ways.
The fact that you don't (at the moment) understand the logic behind this deal doesn't make it a bad move. Google's mobile investments, which started with Android and extended to Motorola patents, have placed Google at the top of the advertising food chain. As it stands, Google outperforms Facebook in terms of overall clicks and market share. WhatsApp may eventually narrow that gap.
All told, it wouldn't surprise me the least bit if we're discussing five years from now what a great deal this was for Facebook. With revenue growing in the recent quarter by more than 60%, Zuckerburg picked the right time to make this move, especially with the company producing such strong operating margins.
Like Manny Ramirez, Facebook may venture into its own world at times but it delivers when and where it matters. That's all you need to understand.
At the time of publication, the author held no position in any of the stocks mentioned.
This article represents the opinion of a contributor and not necessarily that of TheStreet or its editorial staff.