When Facebook bought WhatsApp last week, only a few executives besides CEO Mark Zuckerberg were aware of the deal, which is similar to what happened when Facebook bought Instagram. So when regular Facebook employees heard about the deal it came as quite the shock.
At least that’s the impression one gets from reading a Quora thread on the issue. One anonymous commenter said, “I had a holy-sh*t moment when I heard about the deal.” In general, the anonymous Facebook employees are keenly aware of how much money their new colleagues from WhatsApp have and regret not trying to build their own startup. However, most of them realize that they chose the safe path by coming to Facebook and believe the acquisition was a good move by Facebook.
The most upvoted response compared the acquisition to a large, thriving tribe spending 10% of its resources on another small, yet strong, new tribe.
“A very select few members of our tribe were involved in making this decision,” the comment says. “The settlements for this other tribe are immaculate, the quality of the dwellings they can now afford vastly outstrips the quality of the dwellings all but a select few leaders of the current tribe will ever see from a lifetime of work.”
The comment says that engineers at Facebook will have the hardest time responding to this because acquisitions like this “make so abundantly clear how loose the connection between technical accomplishment and business value is.” Engineers will say, “But we could have built that!”
This echoes similar comments. One quickly thought of “how rich I would have been if I had worked at Whatsapp instead.” Another said employees were wondering whether “maybe a smaller startup may be a better place for them than FB in terms of impact they could be making.”
At the same time, many were reflective and realized they are paid well at Facebook and thought the purchase was a good decision. “Towards the evening realized that Facebook compensates me very generously and I am happy with my work,” one commenter wrote. Likewise, another noted that “Just about everyone’s job will be the same tomorrow as it was the day before.”