Microsoft was also willing to buy WhatsApp, says Bill Gates in an interview with Rolling Stone

Hammad Saleem


WhatsApp’s $19 billion acquisition has become the talk of the town from the past few weeks. Such a big amount for a instant messaging service that totally relies on its subscription model for revenue — costs $0.99 a year — but the service does have a gigantic user base, which may have attracted such a whopping amount. Some rumors suggested Google was also interested in acquiring WhatsApp, which the company denied. It seems Microsoft was also willing to purchase WhatsApp. The news came from Bill Gates during an interview with Rolling Stone magazine.

The interview was pretty interesting and was not limited to technology – there were several non-technical, real world questions as well. As usual, he was also asked about the WhatsApp acquisition by Facebook, and what he thought about the deal, as well as the “economics of Silicon Valley about the WhatsApp acquisition.” Bill Gates said, “Mark has the credibility to say, ‘I’m going to spend $19 billion to buy something that has essentially no revenue model.’ I think his aggressiveness is wise – although the price is higher than I would have expected. It shows that user bases are extremely valuable. It’s software; it can morph into a broad set of things – once you’re set up communicating with somebody, you’re not just going to do text. You’re going to do photos, you’re going to share documents, you’re going to play games together.” 

He further said, “Yeah, yeah. Microsoft was willing to buy it, too. . . . I don’t know if it was for $19 billion, but the company’s extremely valuable.” Well, it seems Microsoft was willing to purchase the service too, but Gates didn’t know if the Redmond giant will pay such a big amount. He did reiterate the fact that the company is extremely valuable. The service has a user base of over 400 million. 

During the interview, he was also asked about Mark Zuckerberg, and if he sees some of himself in Mark. The response mentioned that they both are Harvard dropouts, but Mark is more of a product manager while he’s a coder — and yes, he did mention the late Steve Jobs as well. He said, “Oh, sure. We’re both Harvard dropouts, we both had strong, stubborn views of what software could do. I give him more credit for shaping the user interface of his product. He’s more of a product manager than I was. I’m more of a coder, down in the bowels and the architecture, than he is. But, you know, that’s not that major of a difference. I start with architecture, and Mark starts with products, and Steve Jobs started with aesthetics.”

The company recently made a big acquisition of Nokia’s devices and services division. Microsoft is expected to complete the Nokia acquisition by the end of this quarter. If you’re interested in reading the entire interview in detail, head over to the VIA link below. Bill answered quite a lot of interesting questions during the interview.