The tech and business communities have their heads aflutter with news that social media giant Facebook has decided to buy WhatsApp, an app company that mimicks traditional text messaging for smartphones, for a staggering $19 billion ($16 billion in cash, and $3 billion in restricted stock). If that sounds like a lot of money to you, that's because it is an incomprehensible amount of money — more than you could spend in a hundred lifetimes.
Zuckerberg's spending spree had us thinking: What else could he have bought with all that dough? We did some digging, and found out just what Zuckerbro could have walked away with instead of WhatsApp.
1. NYC's Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village: $5.4 Billion
The largest deal in U.S. retail history went down in 2006 in just 30 days, closing on 11,232 apartments in 110 buildings.
2. The London 2012 Olympics: $14.6 Billion
3. The Cost Of Providing Safe, Clean Water to the Entire Globe: $10 Billion a Year
40% of the world lacks access to safe and reliable water supplies; it would cost $10 billion a year to provide it.
4. Cost Of Hurricane Sandy to New Jersey: $8.3 Billion
Yep, for the amount Zuckerbro is shelling out for WhatsApp, you could double rebuild New Jersey and maybe even fund a traffic study or two.
5. North Korea's Military: $8.213 Billion
OK, no one really knows, but this estimate is pretty close. At $5-8 billion a year, North Korea's entire military budget is dwarfed by the WhatsApp acquisition. For $19 billion, Facebook could probably turn Dear Leader into Dear Late Leader.
6. The World's Tallest Building: $1.5 Billion
The 2,716-foot Burj Khalifa cost just $1.5 billion. For the price of one WhatsApp, you could build 12 and have enough pocket change left over to fill them with tigers.
7. The Hoover Dam: $730 Million
Honestly, this makes the Hoover Dam sound like a great deal. But with over 96 official deaths during construction, Facebook might want to budget a couple hundred million or two extra for some wrongful death lawsuits if it goes this route.
8. The Entire World Music Industry: $16.8 Billion
The entire world music industry brings in "less than $1.4 billion in record and song sales a month," so $16.8 billion is actually a pretty good year of revenues for the music industry. Think about that again: Facebook could buy all the music sold every year.
9. The Vatican: $10-15 Billion
Who needs a Menlo Park complex when you could just set up a server farm in the Sistine Chapel? The Vatican's accumulated wealth is roughly $10-15 billion by the best estimates of international bankers.
It's probably not for sale, though we didn't consult a realtor.
10. The Hubble Space Telescope: $10 Billion
The cumulative design, construction, launch and maintenance costs of the Hubble Space Telescope come in around $10 billion. You can use it to spy on nude beaches.
11. Jamaica: $14.84 Billion
This awesome little island nation had a 2012 GDP of $14.84 billion and comes with rich cultural traditions, a beautiful landscape, and, umm, 130% debt. But Facebook could spruce up the place by rewriting the tax code to be just as friendly as America's.
12. Donald Trump: $2.9 Billion
OK, you probably don't want to buy this.
13. RMS Titanic: $176 Million
At just $7.5 million in 1912, these things are a dime a dozen. One goes down, build another.
14. Panama Canal: $8.46 Billion
At $375 million in 1914, that's approximately $8.46 billion in 2012 dollars. And wouldn't it be worth it to control half of the world's cargo shipping?
15. 60.369 "Fat Man" Nuclear Bombs: $19 Billion, Precisely
Fat Man, the bomb dropped over Nagasaki, Japan at the end of World War II, cost about $25 million in 1945 dollars, or approximately $314,729,395 in 2012 dollars. $19 billion would buy 60.369 copies of Fat Man, and using a conservative estimate of the death toll in Nagasaki, could thus kill about 4,527,675 people.
Just so you know, Facebook could pretty feasibly start work on an atomic bomb project.