Facebook buys back over 100B monthly engagement minutes it lost to Whatsapp

Disaster averted, what’s next?

Michael Vakulenko
Feb 20, 2014 · 2 min read

Facebook will live or die by user engagement, especially on mobile. Whatsapp sends 18 billion and receives 36 billion messages a day. Let’s say it takes about 7 seconds to send a message and 3 seconds to read a message. This is based on watching how my teenage kids use Whatsapp texting and sending pictures. The math is simple:

((18B messages * 7sec + 36B messages * 3sec) / 60) * 30 = 117B minutes per month

People have limited time and attention. So most of these 110+ Billion minutes were taken from the potential Facebook mobile engagement minutes. Wow! That is the cost of doing nothing for Facebook.

There is more

Whatsapp is growing at about 1M users a day. That means Facebook looses at least additional 12.4 Million engagement minutes each and every day. For simplicity I take into account only Whatsapp users that are active daily, which are 70% of 450M monthly active users:

3.9B minutes per day / 315M daily active users = 12.4 minutes per day per user

Now what?

Whatsapp blog says:

“Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing.

The company remains independent and loyal to its promise of “No ads!”. There will be no immediate monetisation opportunities for Facebook. What can be there for Facebook beyond averting future disaster of Whatsapp killing Facebook mobile engagement? Or even worth, falling into Google’s hostile hands?

Mark Zuckerberg writes about the acquisition:

Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. We do this by building services that help people share any type of content with any group of people they want. WhatsApp will help us do this by continuing to develop a service that people around the world love to use every day.

Will we see 450M mobile numbers brought in by Whatsapp coming into play helping Facebook connect people? Time will tell, but the potential is there for Facebook to become huge integrated communication provider on par with China Mobile, world largest mobile operator.

(China Mobile has 700M subscribers, but given that many people have two phones the number of users is much lower and close to 450M of Whatsapp monthly active users.)

    Michael Vakulenko

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    Always curious how the world works | linkedin.com/in/mvakulenko