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Feb 25, 2014

BlackBerry CEO Says He'd Sell BBM for $19 Billion

Now that Mark Zuckerberg shelled out $19 billion (€13.8 billion) for messaging app WhatsApp, BlackBerry’s CEO says he’d have accepted a similar offer too.

“I work for the shareholder. If somebody comes to me with $19 billion, I would definitely sell it. I would recommend to the board to take it,” said John Chen, BlackBery CEO, in an interview with CNBC. While he’s not adamant about selling BBM, it’s clear that Chen would agree to a similar offer if it came. He did add, however, that he did not look at BBM in this manner. “I know there's a lot of value in messaging businesses... I think the right thing to do is to expand that and market as big as possible and then I (will) worry about the valuation later,” he said. Last week, when everyone was talking about the Facebook acquisition of WhatsApp, trying to discover possible reasons for the transactions, the general agreement was that this was one of the few options for the social network. Snapchat refused to sell, while BBM was (presumably) not for sale. WhatsApp, seemed like the logical next step for Facebook.

The deal shocked the tech industry due to its nature and the fact that no one knew that Facebook was looking to acquire a messaging app, especially since it had already built its own. BBM is an extremely popular feature among BlackBerry users and one that has managed to keep the interest of fans in the company’s devices even during the lengthy crisis it went through. Hoping to bank on the success it had on its own platform, BlackBerry decided to release the messaging app to other platforms as well. Back in October, Android and iPhone versions were revealed, attracting millions of downloads in no time. Even so, when you compare BBM to WhatsApp, BlackBerry’s tool is not even close when it comes to popularity. While WhatsApp has some 465 million users, BBM only has about 85 million monthly users.

Also, given the size of the offer that WhatsApp accepted from Facebook, it’s no surprise that Chen would be willing to sell the messaging app for this price. After all, BlackBerry’s current market cap is a lot smaller than that, namely some $5.5 billion (€4 billion). Another thing that should be highlighted in his statement is that Chen seems to care most about the shareholders; a steep difference between WhatsApp’s desire to protect users and BlackBerry’s hunger for cash. It is understandable, however, given the difficult years that BlackBerry has had, that the company’ leaders would be willing to sell one of the most prized possessions for a hefty price that would bring BlackBerry back on track.

BBM logo
Image credits to BlackBerry


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