A billion dollars isn’t what it used to be but it’s still substantial. You might wonder, as I did, what else in the world might be worth $16 billion the sum Facebook will pay (unless it pays $19 billion) for WhatsApp. As it turns out there are lots of things and people in the $16 billion range. Here are some examples.
Len Blavatnik, a self-made man with diversified holdings is #44 in Forbes list of richest people in the world.
Michael Dell, founder of Dell Computer, is #25 in Forbes’ American list.
According to the UN, GDP rankings the Republic of Georgia has a GDP of $15,830 billion.
The 2014 winter Olympics cost Russia a reported $50 billion. But the 2018 event in Pyeonchang, South Korea has an infrastructure budget of only $7 billion, assuming a 100% overrun we’re in the neighborhood.
The latest US Aircraft carrier, the USS Gerald R. Ford, is the first in a new class of carriers also called the Ford class, aka the floating Fort Knox. It was christened last year and had a cost of $13 billion, not including things like planes and ammo. Ford-class carriers will begin replacing the 40 year-old Nimitz-class carriers and we can expect a $16 billion carrier any time now.
F-35 joint strike fighter jet. Projected cost of $391.2 billion for a fleet of 2,443. That’s a current projection of $160.13 million per. Seems light to me.
US federal budget, $2.9 trillion with a deficit of $901 billion, now that’s big.
Forget all that, I decided to do what’s fastest and easiest. I simply Googled $16 billion to see what would pop up. Naturally, WhatsApp and Facebook were everywhere, but if you get deep into the search pile interesting things begin to emerge. Here are headlines and links.
Bolivia Earns $16 Billion from Energy Industry Since Nationalization (in 2006)
FY 2013 – $16 billion to assist recovery from Hurricane Sandy. ($15.18 billion after sequester)
Exxon reports record profit of nearly $16 billion
July 26, 2012
American Psychological Association
The use of psychotropic drugs by adult Americans increased 22 percent from 2001 to 2010, with one in five adults now taking at least one psychotropic medication, according to industry data. In 2010, Americans spent more than $16 billion on antipsychotics, $11 billion on antidepressants and $7 billion for drugs to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
Suntory buying spirits maker Beam in a $16 billion deal
A lot of bourbon
Unclaimed Money: $16 Billion in Unredeemed U.S. Treasury Bonds. Could Some Be Yours?
June 15, 2011
August 8th, 2013
China announces $16 billion Beijing anti-pollution plan
Who are they kidding?
Cost of Excessive Drinking in Texas: $16 Billion
“In Texas, the yearly cost of binge drinking is estimated at $16 billion, which includes expenses related to health care, criminal justice and lost work.”
Shop til you drop: India’s e-shoppers spent $16 billion in 2013
Let’s see that’s about $16 per. Think of the upside.
So there’s lots that $16 billion can buy. I don’t know why there’s such an uproar over a ten year-old software company buying a four year-old software company.
There is a very good article in the current issue of Vanity Fair (with Alec Baldwin on the cover) about Microsoft. In “How Microsoft Lost Its Mojo” Kurt Eichenwald recounts the failures and bad decisions of the company’s “lost decade” a time overseen by current CEO Steve Ballmer.
If you are in this business you can probably recall at least some of the major inflection points related to missed opportunities and in-fighting that cost the company its market leading position. I thought it was just me, but Eichenwald even compared Microsoft to Detroit auto makers and their past glory. For good measure he ends with a long quote from Steve Jobs’ biography about the difference between having a sales or ops guy running the show and having a product guy in charge. Sad. Worth reading.
According to the article, Microsoft’s stock has barely budged over the last ten years while other tech companies flew by — Google, Facebook and of course Apple. In one recent quarter iPhone alone made more money than all of Microsoft.
The article quotes Ballmer saying he wants to remain at Microsoft till 2018 but I don’t think the company can wait that long. The article also implies that Ballmer might be a smart pick to break the company up and to take the legacy products into the sunset while more product oriented people try to salvage the core of innovation, if it still exists.
Fun fact: According to Wikipedia, “Ballmer was the second person after Roberto Goizueta to become a billionaire in U.S. dollars based on stock options received as an employee of a corporation in which he was neither a founder nor a relative of a founder.”
Ten years of stagnation can’t be sitting well with Wall Street. What will it take to orchestrate a palace coup?