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Zuck paid, what, a cool billion for Instagram? Elon spent $800 million, and has an orbital vehicle that can dock with the ISS. And SpaceX is actually profitable.

So, yeah, you can be for-profit and change the world. Or be for-profit and help people share photos. Changing the world is a pretty big grey area.




It's not yet clear which venture will have a greater impact on the world. People here consistently underestimate the significance of democratizing the media.


SpaceX is part of the first wave in its field, Instagram is at least second wave of democratizing media.


In general, I agree. In this specific case, I disagree.

I'll confidently bet that Instagram will be "integrated" or forgotten in a few years, relegated to the dustbin of ephemeral "one feature" companies that briefly caught on with hipsters before winning the startup lottery. Meanwhile, SpaceX will still be going strong, revolutionizing private space travel and space cargo delivery, and possibly have achieved tangible milestones toward the first manned voyage to Mars. One company is not much more than an iPhone camera app with a web backend for sharing, is cheap to do, and something that many thousands of developers could do well. The other is doing rocket science, costs hundreds of millions plus, and is staffed by a team of folks of a kind where few can do it well, if at all -- and especially, it now appears, also do cheaply. Humans had tons of pre-existing ways to share photos and "apply cool filters" before Instagram came along. Humanity has very few ways of getting into space (ie, rocket companies), and now SpaceX is one of them. And I respect the significance of democratizing media -- but I felt it was very well democratized in dozens of ways before & without Instagram.

And don't even get me started on Gmail. (kidding!)


Well put. I think monetary value and impact don't necessarily correlate. One could have an amazing, long-term impact on the world without it being reflected in 'price'.

Reminds me of some of the recent Valve stories, specifically the anecdote about Doom being the most installed piece of software [1].

[1] For those that didn't know this, see the post below and scroll down to 'Valve is different'

http://blogs.valvesoftware.com/abrash/valve-how-i-got-here-w...


I'm not sure what these two things have to do with each other. Elon Musk's goals with SpaceX are entirely different than Facebook's goals with Instagram. No business purpose of Facebook's would have been served by building orbital vehicles. Facebook hasn't even gone public yet; the money we're talking about isn't yet Zuckerberg's to spend randomly.


Zuckerberg has majority ownership of Facebook shares; he has defacto control of whatever capital Facebook has available to it, whether it's "his" money or not. Was there not discusion that he didn't confer with Facebook's board before completing the Instagram purchase?


No: majority shareholders of corporations continue to owe fiduciary duty to the minority. This is obviously tangential to the real point, though. Google paid more than 12 SpaceX's for Motorola. Would docking with the ISS help with the Android patent problem?


The directors are fiduciaries. Shareholders aren't fiduciaries and don't owe a duty to other shareholders.


While majority stockholders may not be fiduciaries, googling "duties to minority stockholders" suggests that they have some duties wrt minority stockholders, at least in some cases.


IIUC corporate officers are fiduciaries as well; hence, shareholder lawsuits. As CEO of Facebook, Zuckerburg could be liable for wasting Facebook's money.


This line of argument the last week or so has made no sense to me.

Whether you agree with him or not, Zuckerberg's motivation for Facebook buying Instagram was related to the business of Facebook. Elon didn't make PayPal or Tesla start a rocket division, he set up a completely separate venture with its own goals.


Being in space isn't the be-all, it is rather just a very expensive government-backed hobby.




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