What else could Facebook buy for $16 billion?

Sure, snapping up a popular messaging app is nice. But we think Mark Zuckerberg could have gotten more bang for his megabucks.

16billion whatsapp

A $16 billion shopping spree

What’s $16 billion get you these days? If you’re Mark Zuckerberg, it buys you a messaging app. And while we don’t doubt the addition of WhatsApp moves Facebook one step closer to its goal of becoming the social network you can’t live without, it seems like the company could have gotten significantly more bang for its megabucks.

But don’t worry if you’ve got $4 billion in cash and another $12 billion in stock burning a hole in your pocket. We can show you just how far you can stretch a dollar, should you find yourself going on a Zuckerbergian spending spree. And just maybe, it’ll give Facebook an idea or two for its next headline-grabbing deal.

16billion instagramsnapchat

Snapchat and Instagram—again and again

It was pointed out by tech pundits the minute news of Facebook’s WhatsApp purchase broke, but it bears repeating: for what it paid to buy the messaging app, Facebook could have bought the equivalent of Instagram 16 times over. Or it could bought 5.3 Snapchats if CEO Evan Spiegel wasn’t so darn finicky.

16billion wholefoods

Whole Foods

We’re sure Facebook employees get peckish, just like the rest of us. So why not make a run down to Whole Foods to pick up some snacks? Or, just to make sure that everyone down at Facebook HQ is satisfied with their snacking selection, why not buy the whole store?

And by the “whole store,” we mean every store. The FT US 500 rankings puts Whole Foods’s market value at $16.077 billion, good enough for No. 233 on the list of most valuable publicly traded U.S. companies. Sure, Zuckerberg would have to come up with an extra $77 million to seal the deal, but he could probably find most of it in loose change underneath his couch cushions.

16billion linkedin


While we’re on the subject of the FT 500, just below Whole Foods in the U.S. rankings is another social network—LinkedIn. Not only would adding LinkedIn complement Facebook’s current offerings, its market value of $15.677 billion would leave Facebook with $300 million or so for its next app purchase. And all that resume data sure would help build out Graph Search.

16billion georgia

The Republic of Georgia

You know what’s cooler than owning a messaging app that’s popular in other countries? Owning one of those countries. And with a GDP of around $15.930 billion according to the CIA World Fact Book, Georgia is right within Facebook’s budget.

Adding this Eurasian nation to its portfolio would allow Facebook to branch out beyond social networking into lucrative industries like wine and oil transportation. And while we’ve never been to Tbilisi, we imagine it’s a more happening place to build your corporate headquarters than Mountain View.

16billion socialnetwork

Remake The Social Network

History, they say, is written by the victors—or at least by those willing to splash out the cash. And since Mark Zuckerberg isn’t a fan of his portrayal in the 2010 movie The Social Network, why not right the wrongs that David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin inflicted upon you? It cost $40 million to make the original movie. That would leave Zuckerberg enough cash to buy up 1.064 billion copies of the two-disc collector’s edition Blu-ray DVD currently available through Amazon so that Jesse Eisenberg’s performance need never appear on another screen.

16billion piratesofcaribbean

More movie-making

So long as Facebook would consider getting into the movie-making business, why futz around with a humble $40 million biopic. Using the “Go big or go home” philosophy that made it a social networking titan, Facebook could aim to recreate the most expensive movie ever made—that’d be Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, which cost an estimated $300 million to bring to the silver screen. That’s walking-around money for Facebook: it could used the $16 billion it spent on WhatsApp to film the equivalent of 53-and-a-third versions of Johnny Depp hamming it up as Captain Jack Sparrow. We’re pretty sure that Zuckerberg would insist that all his pirates wear hoodies, though.

16billion tigerwoods

A Tiger Woods multitude

It’s been nearly six years since Tiger Woods last won a Major champion, but the No. 1 ranked golfer in the world still had a lucrative 2013, landing on top of Forbes’s list of the world’s highest paid athletes. Woods brought in $78.1 million in winnings and endorsements during 2013—an impressive tally to be sure, but a salary Facebook could easily match. In fact, Zuckerberg and Co. could have used the $16 billion spent on WhatsApp to put 204.86 Tiger Woodses on the payroll, and pit them against one another in perpetual competition. It would certainly be more compelling than FarmVille.

16billion htcfirst

Millions of Facebook phones

It’s not unfair to call the HTC First—the first phone to ship with Facebook Home preinstalled—a complete flop. Facebook’s mistake? Letting the market decide instead of forcing the phone upon the world whether we wanted it our not. Instead of pulling the plug on the HTC First, Facebook could have taken its $16 billion war chest and bought 160 million copies of the $100 phone and made sure it wound up in users’ hands—give them out at shopping malls, send them out in the mail like the AOL CD-ROMs of old, borrow Jeff Bezos’s Amazon drone for the weekend and carpet-bomb a village with HTC First phones. You know, sometimes I don’t even think Mark Zuckerberg wants to succeed.

16billion sochiolympics

Around one-third of the Sochi Olympics

Those Winter Olympics you’ve been enjoying the past two weeks come at a hefty price tag—$51 billion, or more than every previous Winter Olympics put together. That’s certainly more than Facebook is willing to spend, but the company could have put up its $16 billion bankroll to fund five-and-a-half days of Olympic competition featuring such Facebook-centric events as competitive link sharing, downhill friending, and Facebook biathlon (a combination of cross-country skiing and poking).

16billion 12dollarcheck

Cash back for Facebook users

Hey, you know who should be able to wet their beaks with all this cash Facebook’s flinging around? You and me, friend. If Facebook were to divvy up that $16 billion to all its monthly active users, that’s a return of $12 or so. Restrict that to just mobile users—that’s where the money is, anyway—and our windfall swells to $16.93. Frankly, it’s the least Facebook could give us after we handed over all that personal data.