When Facebook acquired WhatsApp last week for $19 billion, it set itself apart from earlier generation technology leaders like Apple  and Microsoft.

Facebook has decided that it wants to own the social space now, as well as in the future, and is willing to pay an ostensibly high price to ensure owning rising players who may one day challenge them.

By contrast, Apple and Microsoft believed they could catch up and surpass new entrants (and were both often, but not always, correct) and therefore rarely paid a premium for acquisitions. We will return to this theme in a future blog post by speculating who Microsoft could buy to help ensure more control over its domain going forward.

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