There’s no question that Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. The highly popular network boasts more than two billion monthly active users, which is almost a third of the world’s population.
The social media giant has been under much scrutiny as of late. Many are claiming Facebook is a monopoly. In a recent anti-trust lawsuit, plaintiffs claim the tech giant removed outside apps from its platform that it viewed as potential competitors and “coerced” developers to share their user data. This somewhat aggressive strategy has helped Facebook acquire other apps and increase revenue.
This post explores some of the top brands and apps Facebook owns or has owned in the past few years.
On April 9, 2012, Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion. By the next year, Instagram began making money through advertisements that now any Facebook advertising company can try its hand at. Now it’s worth about $100 billion, with more than one billion monthly active users.
There’s no doubt Instagram will continue to be the go-to app for sharing photos and videos, connecting with followers, checking on popular brands, and researching various products and services. Some experts say that the platform will start focusing more on IGTV, which is a key feature that allows users to share long-form videos.
Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion on February 19, 2014. On the app, users can make calls and send text messages to other users for free. Today, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging platform, even surpassing Facebook Messenger, with more than 1.5 billion monthly active users. By 2020, WhatsApp’s revenue is estimated to be as high as five billion dollars.
In the near future, Facebook plans to bring ads to the platform to generate even more revenue. This is good for companies, but not so for users. The new change could disrupt their experience.
3. Oculus VR
On March 25, 2014, Facebook acquired Oculus VR—one of the leaders in the VR technology space—for $2.3 billion in cash and stock. Oculus Rift, a VR gaming headset, is the company’s best-known development. Well-known gaming company, ZeniMax, filed a lawsuit against Facebook and received $250 million in damages. The claim stated that Oculus Rift was built based on stolen code and research.
This setback didn’t stop Facebook and Oculus from releasing yet another VR headset, Oculus Quest, the first all-in-one gaming system for VR. Acquiring Oculus was indeed a smart move for Facebook. Demand for VR is only going to increase, and Oculus is just getting started.
On August 10, 2009, Facebook bought FriendFeed for $47.5 million in cash and stock. During its operation, FriendFeed helped users follow trending topics on social media platforms without checking every online media service they used.
However, as years passed, the number of people using FriendFeed declined. This is likely due to the boom in social media apps. Now users can just log in and out of each platform they use with just the click of a button. FriendFeed finally shut down in 2015, but its influences, including News Feed, still remain in Facebook’s current UI.
5. Masquerade (MSQRD)
In 2016, Facebook purchased MSQRD at an undisclosed amount. MSQRD allows users to customize their selfies by placing different effects on videos in real time. Before making the sale, owners of MSQRD stipulated that the app continue to live in the app store and that Facebook release frequent updates to users.
Shortly after the acquisition in March 2016, MSQRD’s monthly active users spiked to more than 40 million, but by October, the app only had approximately one million monthly active users. As a result, MSQRD began to fall in the app store rankings and stopped receiving software updates and new filters. Yet, Facebook started integrating the app’s features into its own products.
Although MSQRD hasn’t been updated since 2016, the app is still available for download in both iOS and Android app stores. Going forward, Facebook’s intentions for MSQRD remain unclear.
In 2012, Facebook released a standalone app called Poke, not be confused with Facebook’s original poke, which users used to virtually “poke” their friends on the platform. The Poke app allowed people to send photos, videos, and pokes to their friends. This media would disappear after a few seconds if users didn’t keep their finger on the screen. If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because Snapchat works the same way.
In the spring of 2014, Facebook removed the app from the iOS store because it didn’t gain the traction its creators expected. It likely failed for a variety of reasons, including its lack of privacy, with the app being too “open” to the public.
Facebook made another attempt at conquering Snapchat with its release of Slingshot in 2014. The app allows users to send and decorate images and videos with colorful drawings and captions. Unlike in Snapchat, where users can view messages as soon as they receive them, Slingshot prevented users from viewing an incoming “shot” unless they sent a shot back to the sender.
Just months after Slingshot’s launch, Facebook removed this unique feature from the app, making it just another Snapchat copy. The app eventually sank down the charts.
In 2016, Facebook released another Snapchat clone, but only this time, it was specifically for emerging markets with scarce Wi-Fi and weak connectivity. Since Snapchat was winning over American teens, Facebook wanted to try beating its competitor to places including Brazil, Indonesia, and India.
Developers hoped that by providing features similar to Snapchat that use less data and storage, teens in emerging markets would choose Flash and no longer use Snapchat. Flash didn’t produce the results Facebook had hoped. Snapchat continues to dominate the ephemeral photo- and video-sharing game.
Back in 2018, Facebook released a TikTok competitor called Lasso, which functions similarly to the former app. Lasso, available to iOS and Android devices, allows users to create and post lip-synching videos. To reach a wider audience, users can also add hashtags and simultaneously post to Facebook and Instagram Stories.
Lasso was created to compete against teen-favored app TikTok at a time when Facebook was losing younger users. To date, TikTok is still more popular than Lasso. Its usage will likely increase in the years to come.
As time goes on, Facebook will co ntinue to look for ways to build revenue by purchasing a diverse selection of apps and companies in a variety of industries and launching its own unique creations.