When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion back in 2012, even casual onlookers balked at how much Mark Zuckerberg’s empire spent on an app that was essentially a glorified collection of photo filters. The absurdity of it was only put into more dramatic perspective when, a few days later, Audi bought storied motorcycle builder Ducati for a paltry $1.1 billion. Somehow, an 85-year-old company that builds some of the finest motorcycles in the world was worth about the same as a 2-year-old photography app that, at the time, hadn’t earned a single dime.
Yesterday’s news that Facebook purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion blows even that dumbfounding comparison out of the water. If you’re running a Fortune 500 company right now, you’re either reaching for the phone to call some app developers, or reaching for the bottle of Jack in your desk drawer. Here are 10 admired tech companies – many of which have been painstakingly built over decades and offer hundreds of advanced products – that are all, as of today, worth less than a messaging app.
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