Social media and technology companies alike have been under more intense scrutiny by the public, by Washington and by industry watchers and foreign governments in recent months and years. Whether the issues are about the companies having too much power, a lack of competition or they have simply been bad actors is something that can be debated endlessly.
Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ: FB) is no stranger when it comes to regulatory threats of late.
Democrats and Republicans alike have their own criticism of Facebook and others. It is very hard to determine what, if any, efforts will be made in regulating or breaking up Facebook if antitrust issues come to pass.
24/7 Wall St. has covered Facebook since before it came public in 2012. The leader in social media has made too many acquisitions to easily count, and on top of acquisitions it has made many tests and product launches of its own in areas that compete with existing social media and technology efforts of other companies.
It seems hard to imagine that Facebook is now 15 years old, but here are just some of the statistics about the company that will not be updated until its next earnings release. Facebook has 39,651 full-time employees, and it has 1.59 billion daily and 2.41 billion monthly active users. More than 2.1 billion people around the globe use Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp or Messenger every day on average, and over 2.7 billion people use at least one of its family of services each month.
There is little reason to look into every single facet inside the Facebook empire because many parts would not be considered core operations as they stand now. Many of the launches and efforts have also failed to catch on or remain important to the core operations. The best focal points are around the core Facebook service, followed by Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger.
The social media giant also has purchased patents under Friendster, it has facial recognition technology that might be more powerful than many governments, and it has its own advertising and media-sharing efforts to consider. Facebook also owns the virtual and augmented reality technology from OculusVR.
Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, its largest deal to that time. While it has seen some changes, Instagram is a social photo and video sharing operation that operates under its own brand and its own stand-alone app. It competes against Snapchat and many features are integrated with the Facebook services. The company’s IGTV effort has some competition against YouTube, and Instagram competes for some of the same eyeballs and marketing dollars against Pinterest.
In an outright break-up of the company, Instagram could be spun back out as a standalone entity and could either be unbundled from Facebook entirely or be opened up to any competing and noncompeting interests. Whatever its value would be, it would be multiple times more than the $1 billion Facebook paid for it.
WhatsApp was a $19 billion acquisition by Facebook in 2014. It has its own website with its own look and feel, and now the service has over a billion users from more than 180 nations using it for free and secure messaging and calling from smartphones — without having to pay for international text and voice charges. This easily could be carved back out as a standalone company, and it could choose to (or be forced to) open its operations up to any and every company out there.