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America Online to Buy Internet Chat Service for $287 Million (1998) (nytimes.com)
239 points by ski on Feb 21, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 140 comments

Someone mentioned about trying to find out if their have ever been any other chat services that have really made a lot of money on it's own, and it sparked memory of an acquisition that didn't happen quite that long ago, Microsoft buying Skype in 2011, and here is a good recent article about it:


The bullet point that stands out for me is this:

• Problems monetising it: revenues at the time – $860m for the year, losses of $7m – amounted to just $1.30 per user per year

So, here we have a company, at acquisition, that was making close to the $1 per year per user that WhatsApp is charging. At the end of 2010 skype had 663 million users and was acquired for $8.5 billion. That's $12.82 a user.

Then, as now with WhatsApp, people are questioning whether Microsoft would ever make enough money to justify such a price. Then, as now, people justified the price based on the sort of intangibles (getting rid of a competitor, strengthening the brand, tapping new markets, etc.) the WhatsApp acquisition is being justified with now.

But there is still the big difference that Facebook, with a business in a similar space (obviously still different but they both are chat/communication based), with a similar revenue model per user per year, but only 3 years later purchased it for $42.22 per user. That's almost 4x the price for a similar acquisition 3 years apart.

And people thought Microsoft was crazy for the price they paid for Skype ... it kind of makes you wonder what the hell is going on.

Big difference: Skype had many more than the handful of employees needed to run WhatsApp. Their cost base was hundreds of millions.

WhatsApp seems to run lean and mean, and that makes a big difference in terms of keeping it profitable.

This is slightly misleading in that a business with no revenues doesn/t have that much work to do.

WhatsApp makes $1/user/year after the first year, and appears to keep users around pretty much forever because it's such a good deal.

So that's a revenue that, today, is probably a sizeable fraction of $400m/year. All that with a few dozen employees.

You guys are taking this comment to litterally.

Sales, marketing, accounting, legal, and financial controllership are going to skyrocket when this company has a revenue stream that is worth NPV=$19B.

This is a credit to the company; who like instagram was able to build much value with few FTE's. But building a company "worth money" and building a company "making money" are really different things.

This is smart from a founder's perspective, because in a sense all of those other employees would just be dilutive of attention and likely equity. But from an economic perspective, it's jumping the gun a bit to conclude what the steady state economics will be.

Assuming Google/Apple maintain respective strangleholds, continue to share the wealth, etc. The "app store" craze could fizzle out, nobody knows for sure.

WhatsApp didn't have "no revenue", they had a much simpler revenue stream.. But your point stands. No doubt a lot of Skype's operation costs were the business and marketing side of things.

It seems these types of transactions have nothing to do with potentials profits, but with power over users, or "lying on a bed of weeds and ripping them out before they strangle you".

And with not paying tax - Microsoft has all this money sitting in Europe that it has to pay tax on if it returns to shareholders, or it can waste it on buying companies instead.

Speculation - pure and simple. its an easy sell at the moment to executives and financial types who don't understand how computers work. The reality is that all these services (just like icq) are simple to replace and will only become moreso. if you try to make more than a trickle of income users will turn away. it won't pan out long term for many of these big purchases.

I wonder if IAP could work for social... "You used all your daily premium smileys. Click here to buy more!"

Check out the business model of Line, the WhatsApp competitor dominant in Japan. It's almost exactly what you said. http://www.oneskyapp.com/blog/secret-monetizing-messaging-ap...

Skype has 663 million "accounts", very few of these were active.

According to http://www.statisticbrain.com/skype-statistics/, only 31 million Skype users are active as of 2012.

The statistics sounds BS (as a lot of them are).

FWIW, I don't know anyone (across 5 countries of friends and business partners) who doesn't use Skype.

Skype's use prevails mostly around international calling, video conferencing and professional chats. It isn't really an everyday use thing like WhatsApp which, where dominating, is an entire replacement of SMS. My Skype account gets sparingly used for anything else than talking to a client.

That could make sense, because that's what I've seen it used for: international calling, video conferencing and professional chats.

Still, wouldn't that amount to more than 30M users?


Even if user numbers were comparable, the number of users for WhatsApp is still curving upwards:


I would also argue that being installed and used on mobile devices is more valuable than being installed on a desktop is.

They already have 400 million users, and their growth might continue. But there are only 7 billion people on earth, they are running out of room to prove that valuation. Even if they literally sign up every single person on earth, that's still more than a few dollars per person in revenue required to make the $20 billion valuation worthwhile.

Google earned about $12B on revenue of ~$60B in the 2013 financial year, and trades at $404B.

That's 33 times earnings, and Google isn't growing at 70% a year.

400 million users * $1/year = $400m/year, but WhatsApp's expenses look pretty low. Say earnings of 200m/year

$200m * 33 = ~$6B.

That 70% growth rate makes all the difference.

On the other hand, Google is investing massively in "next big thing" r&d, and even if all its efforts to create new markets fail, it's likely to still be a major player in adtech in 33 years time.

WhatsApp has staggering growth on the basis you don't have to pay for it and its founders are hostile towards advertising, neither of which lend you towards thinking it'll ever reach the 33x P/E ratio (actual P/E ratio >800) still less be significant in 33 years time.


Not sure where to start. What you say isn't even wrong, exactly.

1) You seem to think that the price/earnings ratio has something to do with how the company will do in (P/E) years. It doesn't. As a specific example, companies that are takeover targets have higher PE ratios than they would otherwise, even though they probably won't exist soon.

2) Generally companies with high growth trade at high PE ratios. That's why Google has such a high ratio (it's unclear if you understand this). WhatsApp has even higher growth. AFAIK WhatsApp's revenue is not publicly known, and I'm estimating it at $200m for next year[1].

3) Where are you getting "actual P/E ratio >800"? You know WhatsApp's revenue?

Edit: I see WhatsApp revenue was $20M last year[2]. With growth rates like they are seeing I don't think this says much other than that the revenue model works.

[1] Forbes estimates it at $400M, so I'm being conservative: http://www.forbes.com/sites/hollymagister/2014/02/21/whatsap...

[2] http://www.forbes.com/sites/parmyolson/2014/02/19/exclusive-...

WhatsApp is much better than Skype as an acquisition.

1. It's a single-purpose, specialised application which makes it hard to compete against. Once you can't subtract anymore from a software you are left with the essence of it. If you build that rock-solid you can eliminate any competitive threat on the product front. Kind of like unix utilities.

2. On the network front they played smartly by going after your phone book which makes them network agnostic (Skype, FB, Google, iMessage, BBM are all stuck within their own walls). At this point WhatsApp can just sit back and let network-effects do the work (they have spent 0 on marketing to date).

Between 1 & 2, competing with WhatsApp is hard and they are resilient to disruption. That's a great relief for any tech acquisition.

Another thing I like about WhatsApp is that they didn't do a whole lot other than fixing SMS. They did this by adding group messaging and reducing costs. And for now at least, I don't get any marketing spam on WhatsApp like I do over SMS.

Skype's shelf life was always questionable to me. It was and will remain relatively easier to disrupt.

Fixing SMS is the interesting thing. GroupMe was bought by Skype for many millions, and the key thing about GroupMe was supposedly fixing SMS. But I have no idea what happened to GroupMe after that acquisition. Like many startups, perhaps acquisition was death for them, although it seemed to me that would make little sense for Skype's motivations. I don't think they would have been simply looking for talent the way acquihires usually do.

I still use GroupMe every day to group chat with family and friend groups

One thing many people failed to take into account in the skype deal was that was cash sitting in overseas accounts and had microsoft repatriated those funds they would have been hit with a 30% tax or something on them. By buying an overseas asset they effectively got a huge discount on their money.

It was 30% off, I saved a fortune!

Is it insane to speculate that pressure is coming from government agencies? In a talk at Fosdem Poul-Henning Kamp talks about the pretty insane timeline with skype and how much it potentially benefited the NSA.


I still remember back in 2000 when we still had AOL. I was eight or nine and I had my own aol account. You could have a dozen or so sub accounts on the main one. And because it was a "kids account" there were chat rooms for kids. Being the lovely kid that I was, of course I went into one and was like "how the f*ck are you all?"

Well the kid chat rooms were moderated and our entire AOL account was disabled. My mom had to call to have it re-enabled and of course they told her what I had said.

Fun times...

I remember I used to enter the chat rooms by saying "Ever dance with the devil in the pale moon light?" Being a popular quote from the original Batman movie and it went well with my screen name (xsatanx) it usually got a laugh...

... until I stumbled into a religious chat room.

Got my account disabled and had to have my mom call as well.

A fun read on AOL's moderated chatrooms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AOL_Community_Leader_Program

By 2000 you probably missed the volunteers, but still interesting.

when my folks got me a modem, the only thing my father made me understand was the phone bill values... i was 7 or younger. learned all about initialization strings and the minimal about terminal emulation to get to the message and mud games part of some bbs. after that it was downhill.

I developed a serious internet addiction when I was a teenager. My parents were working class and struggling to make ends meet, and I was always dreading the day the phone bill arrived. After a couple of confiscated modems (I had a secret backup box of old 28.8s), I realized I could just trade my web skills for money and pay the bills myself. I guess that's what I've been doing since.

This sounds pretty similar to my experience. Confiscated modems rang a bell! I've also dreaded the day the phone bill came. A friend and me used all kinds of workarounds: Free AOL CDs, Toll Free Dailup numbers where the banking data was not validated in time... got serious trouble (rightly so) for that. Not much later I got a small job and we had 64k ISDN there, later at that time insanely fast DSL 384k. Learned Linux at age 13, Debian 1.3, Redhat 5, I now make a living of that... The addiction is still there, through.

webskills only existed some half decade later or more...

one thing i learned fast was that a 1 line dial in bbs had good attendence, so i started to run mine after some time. was interesting, and damn cheap since nothing beats free

Heh, good times making ASCII art for a local BBS here :)

I assume the motivation for pulling this out of the archive is the WhatsApp purchase. However, I don't think this comparison is truly fair. Not only is WhatsApp monthly adding over twice the userbase ICQ had at the time of purchase, but it is also actually collecting revenue from them. WhatsApp is a real company with real monetization strategies.

To contextualize requires relativity.

ICQ in 1999 had about 45 million users. There were only 248 million internet users back in 1999. That's 18% of mostly international users.

AOL was optimistic. So much so this is the actual response when they beat the street during their earning reports.

"(ICQ is) growing like a weed," said AOL President Bob Pittman. "Monetizing it" will be "relatively easy," he added.

WhatsApp has 450 million users where there are 2.7 billion internet users. 16%. Of mostly international users. Where, again, monetizing it, should be relatively easy.

But then again, why does any of this matter?

Genie's out of the bottle. The game has changed. We're playing a game of scaling now. Less than a hundred dedicated folks can change the world.

That 19 billion is a clarion call to attract even more people to what it is most of us here have been doing for decades.

If there is to be a singularity moment for the generation that grew up remembering the difference between real life and internet life, we have arrived at the internet life.


I win with 104006.

Was offered job as employee #1. Didn't take the offer. I was 15 y/o.

Are you serious?

Yes. Met Yair and Sefi (two of tech founders) via my uncle who was doing biz Dev for them. I was writing a shareware win32 app at the time called "AoLOL!", an add on for AOL 2.5 and up that would extend the AOL toolbar and add a bunch of features. One of those features was called "keep in touch". You could specify a list of AOl screen names and it would run through that list and perform AOL'd "check if online" function. It would tell you if your friends are online and of so, what chat room they're in (if any). A precursor to the "buddy list."

The icq guys are Israeli. My parents are Israeli. I spoke Hebrew fluently. I helped them fix the broken English on their web site. Later I gave them access to my AOL account so they could take a close look at AOL's buddy list when it did launch.

They also offered me UIN (the icq #) "007". I laughed it off, didn't even know at the time what 007 meant.

Always wondered what would have been if I was a few years older, not living with my parents, able to drive, and would have taken their offer seriously. To me they really kicked off the dotcom boom and for me, my focus in startups.

It surprises you? Pretty big chance that a programmer once offered an ICQ job is on HN these days and would comment in a thread about the Mirabilis purchase.

No, not that surprising but I want to know more. It just sounded so casual.

I want to believe. But a smaller amount of people making exponentially greater returns means luck is the new god.

ICQ was revolutionary at the time. Both in terms of early-game instant messaging, and the deal these guys struck with AOL. I remember everybody talking about it in Israel at the time. (iirc) Four founders in their early twenties each making around $40mil was quite a shock.

Even though it's a bit sad to see things didn't really evolve much since then, the bubble bursted a little later, and those kind of eyeballs-based "business-models" collapsed. I wonder if these kind of deals are the canary of another bubble bursting?


This is key. People seem to forget that 15 years ago the Internet was new and not many people used it or had access to it.

I imagine that in 15 years (fingers crossed) we'll reflect the same situation where we assume everyone has access to the Internet and not just several billion people :)


how do I remember that?

207432 :) It got stolen a while ago, when I already stopped using icq.


I have no idea, but it's still stuck in my mind to this day!


2412581 use it everyday with my wife and a couple holdout geeks.



Screw all you guys and your good memories, why can't I remember mine? :P

I remember when switching from ICQ to Microsoft Messenger thinking "good riddance". Messenger employed the not the least bit novel approach of letting users sign in using a self selected textual screen name.

My god those were awesome. A great friend of mine typed in his name, Ben LastName. It said it was taken, but how about Ovenproof Ben? Mine was also taken, how about Mucous Robin? Both have stuck. Its name generator was fantastically random.

I can't believe I can remember mine as well (10407923). I don't even remember my old phone number that I had at the time, or the address of where I lived!



noob. 3110674

> WhatsApp is a real company with real monetization strategies.

Yes and no, they only got 20 millions in revenue last year, not even profit:


I'm not sure that's a fair comparison to make. Most of their revenue comes after the first year. With the growth they had last year and current growth, their revenue should exponentially rise over 2014 and 2015.

Also, I wonder if being bought by facebook could help reduce hardware costs by utilizing facebook's infustracture

> With the growth they had last year and current growth, their revenue should exponentially rise over 2014 and 2015.

You're assuming:

A) Their growth stays the same as it is now.

B) Users on year-long free trials will convert to paying users.

These are crazy assumptions absent years worth of data.

Not saying WhatsApp doesn't have something good going, but in what world have either of the above things ever been predictable in this short of time?

Especially to validate the claim "revenue should exponentially rise"...?

I don't think it matters that much. Does anyone think that Facebook acquired WhatsApp for their revenue?

You might be right about reduced infrastructure costs, but remember that Revenue is incoming cash before costs like infrastructure and other overhead.

Whatsapp makes extremely little revenue right now - like it would take Facebook hundreds of years to recuperate what they paid [1]. Even if it doubles in user-base and grows by an order of magnitude (on top of that) through some magic Facebook monetization strategy, it would still take them decades.

But if we discount the fact that Facebook mostly paid their own "worthless" (mostly overhyped/overvalued) stock for this overvalued Whatsapp acquisition, then maybe with an order of magnitude profit, they could recover the money somewhere between 10-20 years.

For Facebook's sake, they better hope some other new disruptive technology doesn't come along in the next 10-20 years, because they won't be able to keep this sort of acquisition strategy for long.

I've noticed some articles call Facebook/Zuckerberg "smart" for noticing Whatsapp is disrupting them - if you can call noticing a disruption so late in the game that you now have to pay $19 billion to buy it, and with almost zero expectations of recovering the bulk of the money in the next decade.

What would be much smarter is using your own engineers to build that next disruption, or at least buy the ones appearing very early in the game. Zuckerberg could've bought tens of such apps in their early days a few years ago, and he'd still be much better off today. He could've owned Whatsapp, Kik, Viber, Line, and many others for much less.

[1] - Analysis of Whatsapp's revenue and profit when it had half the user-base it has today:


"What would be much smarter is using your own engineers to build that next disruption"

Could they, though? Facebook's DNA is information accumulation. As is Google's.

WhatsApp is the antithesis of this, and the likely outcome of this acquisition is the gradual decline of the product as people flock to whatever new, unburdened, anonymous replacement comes along.

But for a while it will boost the stock price because it keeps user engagement seemingly high.

>Could they, though? Facebook's DNA is information accumulation. As is Google's.

I don't think companies have DNAs. Just idiotic managers who don't give enough freedom to teams to work outside the company's box.

I dunno about that. If you adjust for the number of internet connected people in 1998, ICQ was then just as much of a big deal as WhatsApp is now.

the rate should be a function of internet users/devices. ICQ (aka 1998) was a very different time in terms of total internet devices and users.

WhatsApp had revenues of $20 million last year -- clearly much lower than their userbase -- and from reports on here most people were unaware any $1 per year thing even existed. Their site doesn't seem to even mention the $1 thing, but instead declares -- without time restriction -- that it is entirely free.

It was mainly purchased for the ICQ instant messaging patents rather than userbase: http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/business/u-s-awards-icq... AOL still owns that patent, HTTPS/SSL from Netscape and the cookie from netscape as well. They loaded up on patent nukes in '98: http://news.cnet.com/2100-1023-218360.html

40979067. I don't even know how I remember. I haven't used ICQ for 15 years.


I no longer have access to the @r33t.org email address, nor do I know the password. Unfortunate.

edit: Looking at the profile it seems that a Russian hacked/took over the account who knows how long ago.

I don't even know what email my account uses, but I was able to log in to my account via the web UI, I'm more surprised that I remember my password than I am that I remembered the account number :)


Thought about selling it on ebay, since six-digit accounts used to fetch a non-trivial amount of money. But decided it wasn't worth the $100.

How is it we all still remember these numbers however many decades later??


I have no idea my friend...


Whoa, that was a long time ago:


180662 - I am still using mine.

Why didn't they allow strings for username? Technical limitations?

Actually, the uin was not that important. You could be identified by your email, for instance, or name and surname.

But people had the habit of exchanging UIN and this was it.


52535425. And then I was so angry when that "children under 13 can't use the internet" or whatever act went into effect and I got locked out of it (young and stupid enough to put my real birth date!). I made a new account but can't remember the ID, I stopped using it pretty quickly after that.


Probably we remember because the client made you type it to log in? I forget, but I feel like this is true :)

I think it was due to how you tell people to add you as a friend. There was a search you could do but if you had a common name there would be multiple matches (and I don't think there were photos or a count of mutual friends to help you figure out which one) and perhaps it might have been easier than telling someone to look you up via email (especially since email addresses were often random words rather than first.last@gmail.)

316666. Haven't used it in many years. Obtaining that number was fun, as well :)

How did you obtain it?

Hard to remember exact details, but it was a bit "grey hat". Exploits of a foolish youth!

3333801 - actually managed to login. Wow...

I'm going to speculate that this is a very strategic move from Facebook. Remember BlackBerry Messenger? one of the early selling points of the phone was that BBM let you communicate for free, instantly, with people all over the world. It was pretty revolutionary at it's time.

Facebook is already becoming the world's phonebook. Connect with someone and you have a way to contact them.

Facebook is also heavily pushing it's messaging app on the main Facebook app. I think that WhatsApp will be integrated with (or replace) Facebook messenger.

This combination builds a powerful base for an eventual Facebook phone with a free data/voice plan (the phone would have a base price, but service would be free thanks to the sale of ads ala Kindle Special Offers). Think about it -- if you could call, text, and message all of your contacts, for free, from within the Facebook app, why wouldn't you do it?

If Facebook follows that strategy, they will get their 19 billion out of this deal for sure.

>BBM let you communicate for free, instantly, with people all over the world. It was pretty revolutionary at it's time.

It was not.

They will have a phone

There are still people out there who try to sell their ICQ numbers: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_trksid=p2050601.m570.l1313.T...

I haven't used ICQ since 2000 or so, but as soon as I read your comment, I immediately remembered my old number!

For context, I rarely remember my anniversary.

EDIT: I just logged in. Out of the hundreds of contacts I had, there's one sad guy still online.

Either 300mill was a steal for AOL or Valuations are out of hand?...

Which one is it?

Well, 300M for 12M users, which is a lot fewer than the services that get bought for big numbers today.

But magnitude of the money aside, has an online messaging service ever been able to really turn a huge profit? chongli points out that AOL eventually sold ICQ for less than they paid, and I can't think of any others off the top of my head (AIM didn't prevent AOL from being overtaken by Facebook, say). They seem to be very un-sticky in terms of user retention by their nature.

Apparently it wasn't a bad according to wiki (but the source is in German, so I can't confirm if it's true):

> Orey Gilliam,[6] who also assumed the responsibility for all of AOL's messaging business in 2007, ICQ resumed its growth and turned into a highly profitable company, and one of AOL's most successful businesses.


If I make $10,000 a year yet spend only $1,000, I'd be highly profitable too.

Not worth a lot though, as the subsequent sales showed just how much money they'd lost.

> has an online messaging service ever been able to really turn a huge profit?

You could make the argument that Tencent did, as some are apparently doing when comparing them to Snapchat and seeing visions of billions dancing in their muddled heads.

But that ignores the Asia factor. Where it's not uncommon to find one conglomerate company making toasters, lamp shades, bars of soap, and rockets. Tencent makes video games and they also run the equivalent of PayPal. And, of course, they pimp out their cuuuuute mascot. Since, you know, it's Asia. WhatsApp has a generic-looking icon and no mascot. They are pretty much doomed.

A steal? Nobody uses ICQ anymore. AOL ended up selling ICQ for $187 million in 2010, a big loss on that deal!

And where is the guarantee that ten years from now people will be using Whatsapp?

I'm pretty sure that's his point.

Although with our ridiculous tax scheme they probably got to claim a fat tax deduction from the loss or something...

$19 billion and whatsapp has 465 million users, and ICQ was purchased for $287 million had 12 million users at the time. $40 dollars per user vs $24 dollars per user.

Now if the goal were to acquire users. its far more likely that facebook would have a huge overlap in the number of users it has already and those on whatsapp. That means maybe a cost of acquisition at let's completely speculate $100 dollars per user(maybe more). It seems kind of silly. but then you think about their penetration in developing markets and network effects... I don't know I'm not zuck.

BUT on a complete tangent of my comment. I should start an Israeli chat company. they've had some big exits.

Are you sure there is such a big overlap between WhatsApp users and Facebook users?

The US is Facebook's biggest market but I would bet the US is no where near the top of WhatsApp's market list.

oh and the fact that whatsapp actually is very profitable

If you can call a P/E of 800+ "very profitable"? Making $20M a year profit is no small thing at all, and I'm sure if it was bought for a billion, you'd see far less comments on the subject.

It makes $20 million in revenue. I've read that they're profitable, but never the number.

Goes to show that only 20 Million out of 430M paid the $1/year (which has something to do with it not being charged everywhere and people having a 1 year grace period and a majority of their target market having no credit card (young audience in emerging markets)). Let's see how Zuckerberg plans to change that drastically.

With advertising or selling user information? That seems to be the most likely to me given Facebook's history

32 employees * 100,000 = 3.2 million Let's say a million a year for office space and another million for infrastructure and bandwidth, seems like they were fairly profitable for what they had. No idea how Facebook plans to recoup $20 billion though.

Not with charging $1 a pop, that's for sure.

not very profitable compared to the acquisition price.

20 million in revenue last year is very profitable? Twitter makes that in a day.

Twitter generates about $2M in revenue a day. And they make nothing since they're not profitable. So compared to Twitter, WhatsApp is undefined profitable.

Is it bad that I can still remember my 7 digit ICQ number? It's probably been over 14 years since I've used it. I use to judge everyone that used AIM but eventually I switched over to AIM because all my friends in school had AIM.

I just knew one of the first comments was gonna be about "my x digit ICQ number". (mine was 6)

Sorry to ruin the party... but I had a 5 digit ICQ number. I used to work there.

that means you're oooooooollllllllldddddddd

I have a 6 digit also. It's kind of funny because I had forgotten my password but remembered the number, and I saw that I had my old ISP's email address in there so I couldn't reset it. What I did was sign up for a trial dialup account on my old ISP so I would get assigned the same email address, and then did the password reset and cancelled the ISP account. Just so I could keep my 6 digit icq number.

Damn. Now I wish I could remember mine too. I don't and I have no way to find it back.

Ha, nope. I still remember my number too. Crazy.

It's funny how these ICQ like messenger applications always end up being bought out with heaps of money. When you see it all over for the nth time than its just funny.

I mean: you are supposed to learn a real profession so that you will be able to create real value, whereas real value is actually assigned to messenger apps.

12834982 -- can't believe I can still remember it. I haven't signed on in well over a decade. Kinda proud, not gunna lie. And according to Google, my last nickname was "Blake's Alright", must have been going through some teenage melancholy at the time, haha

And since this is HN, you probably wonder where the ICQ founders are now? As far as I know, 3.5 out of 4.5 (one quit early) are busy having fun and enjoying life, and the remaining one has since started and sold companies for $100m each at the rate of about one per two years.

Just a naive comparison, AOL paid ~24MM/user for ICQ. Facebook is paying ~42.3MM/user for WhatsApp. That's about 76% more. IRC wasn't making any money when it was acquired. WhatsApp was making some.

7-digit ICQ number here, but since I'm seeing people post 6-digit ones, I'm guess I'm not that special :) Still have my 3-digit Slashdot UID though!

I really wish valuation was a measure of how much value you can get out of a company and not how much somebody is willing to pay for it.

If someone is willing to pay that much money for the company, then you can get that value of it.

I remember when this happened. I was quite the upset teenager :)

So was I! Funnily enough, I was right, AOL killed ICQ. Then again, AOL killed most everything they touched.

Wow, I forgot about Tripod. Had a few sites on there.

1315453 - A great collection of memories, indeed ;)

what exactly happened to ICQ? i haven't used it in years and years

Is this an ironic comment on Facebook's recent purchase of Whatsapp?


243121 <3

575061 ;)

1369500 :)


I actually didn't notice the date on this, and thought after Whatsapp, another one?!

We are in a bubble now I presume.

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