What we can learn from a $19 billion acquisition

A lot of people choked on whatever they were drinking when they heard the news of Facebook’s latest acquisition last week. The company paid $19 billion for global messaging platform, WhatsApp.

$19 billion. That’s equivalent to 25 Instagram acquisitions. It’s the type of deal that effectively blew up the Internet and shut down the app itself for a short period after news broke.

It’s so much money and such a significant move that it deserves some critical thinking on every business owner’s part.

So, what can we take away from this monumental move in technology? Here are five thoughts:

Don’t discount the little guy

Four years ago, WhatsApp founder Brian Acton applied for a job at Facebook. They turned him down. Instead of backing down, he decided to collaborate with former Yahoo colleague Jan Koum to build something new. Fantastic move on his part!

Innovation comes from all over. As we’ve seen repeatedly in tech, it’s often just a couple of people with an idea, programming talent and a desire to launch something new.

Even giants are not immune to climate change in consumer trends

Facebook arguably is the now, but it’s not the future. The company doesn’t kid itself in any way that this is the case. Facebook is remarkably honest with itself. Things change much too quickly to ignore what’s happening outside the campus walls. Just look at BlackBerry and Blockbuster.

Money isn’t everything, but it certainly enables big, quick moves

$19 billion is jaw dropping. While some may criticize the amount, the fact remains that Facebook saw a rising trend and made the decision to invest and invest heavily.

Irrelevance is a risk to everyone

Like pop stars, companies today must be willing to reinvent themselves to stay on top. Stand back and think about what Facebook is today and it’s difficult to still say it’s a social network. They have wisely transformed into more of a conglomerate company that has its hands in more than a couple of hefty mobile applications.

Mobile is the future

The year Facebook went public I was working for an agency that represented all sorts of mobile apps and software companies. The pervasive discussion among all of them was, well what about mobile?

A lot of people predicted Facebook would fall flat fast due to its lack of a clear mobile strategy at the time. Only a few people that I can remember stood up and said if they’re smart it would be impossible for them to fail as they could always just buy their way into the handset.

Facebook has now moved into a new era – one that exists on the small screen.

What’s next?

Every business in 2014 is faced with the same realities outlined here. While real estate has its own set of rules and tends to move more slowly, it’s hard to ignore any of these. The future more and more appears to be in our pockets and innovation is hardly predictable.

No one can provide a complete answer to the what’s next question for real estate. But at this point, it’s just as important to be asking the question.