By Corey Omer
In a bold deal that Rob Lever at ABS-CBNnews.com has praised as a “savvy strategic move” and Peter Schiff at Business Insider has decried as evidence of “how dysfunctional and distorted our economy is,” Facebook acquired the instant messaging app WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash, stocks, and restricted stock units, totaling approximately 9.2% of Facebook’s net worth.
- As of December 2013, WhatsApp boasted 450 million users, 72% of which are active daily.
- Facebook is estimated to have paid $345 million per WhatsApp employee (there are only 55) or $42 per user.
- The messaging app is presently growing at a rate of 1 million users a day. Since its founding five years ago, WhatsApp has gained users faster than any other social media site in history, including Facebook. To put this in perspective, since you started reading this post 350 new users joined WhatsApp.
Winkdex: The Bitcoin Price Index
The Winklevoss brothers, famous for their legal battle with Mark Zuckerberg over the founding of Facebook, have released a financial index—known as the Winkdex—providing a regularly updated price for Bitcoin. The shortage of stabilizing governance mechanisms and transparency tools applicable to the volatile cryptocurrency has led some, like Jeff John Roberts at GigaOm to welcome the index. Others, including Paul Vigna at the Wall Street Journal, question whether there is a real need for the Winkdex.
Nathaniel Popper at The New York Times speculates that rollout of the index indicates that the brothers’ proposed Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, the Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust, is moving closer to regulatory approval. The Securities and Exchange Commission is currently reviewing the fund, the first of its kind. Release of the index is also consistent with Bitcoin’s shift into the mainstream—GigaOm reports that Bitcoin ATMs will be arriving in certain U.S. cities this month.
The FCC’s New Net Neutrality Rules
The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) has promised to issue a new set of rules aimed at keeping the web free and open, one month after the United States Court of the Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit struck down the agency’s prior net neutrality rules for illegally treating Internet service providers (ISPs) as regulated utilities. Verizon v. Fed. Commc’ns. Comm’n., No. 11-1355 (D.C. Cir. Jan. 14, 2014), hosted by Scribd.
Although the FCC has decided to not reclassify broadband as a public utility, the agency remains committed to deterring ISPs from charging companies (such as Amazon or Netflix) to stream their content through an Internet “express lane.” As reported by The New York Times, those championing net neutrality contend that such preferential treatment would harm smaller companies and prevent new players from competing with large and established content providers.
Relying on section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Pub. L. No. 104, 110 Stat. 56 (1996) the new rules would, among other things, significantly expand the “Open Internet rules” and provide for greater case-by-case enforcement. The FCC will also closely consider preempting state laws that prevent cities and towns from offering broadband service to residents.