Zuckerberg's Huge Win: Instagram Proves To Be A Bargain At $1 Billion

Mark Zuckerberg in his car

Photo: Getty Images/Kevork Djansezian

Mark Zuckerberg did a lot of things wrong during the first half of 2012, leading up to and through Facebook’s few months as a public company.(One thing: Facebook should not have floated so much stock only to have to effectively buy a bunch back months later.)

One thing he did well was buy Instagram for $1 billion.

It turns out that was a bargain.

Back then, the photo-sharing app for Android phones and iPhones had 860,000 daily active users. Today it has 11 million.

(11 million!)

That is 1179% growth in six months.

(One thousand per cent growth in six months!)

Both figures are according to AppData, the industry’s most trusted source of mobile and Facebook application user numbers.

Here’s a chart of this incredible growth:

Instagram Daily Active Users

Photo: AppData

For some context, here is how big Instagram is compared with Pinterest, which raised a $150 million at a $1.5 billion valuation shortly after the Instagram sale:

Instagram versus Pinterest DAUs

Photo: App Data

Pinterest, we’re told, has in recent months turned down acquisition offers above $2 billion.

If Instagram were still an independent company, it would surely be getting better offers than that.

For good reason too.

By the end of this decade, more people will use the Internet through their mobile devices than they do their desktop or laptop computers.

After Facebook, which has 543 million monthly active users on mobile, and Twitter, which has 140 million daily active users across all platforms, no social network is close to as big as Instagram is on mobile, with 30.3 million monthly users.

Of course, the problem with Instagram is the problem with Facebook: it’s hard to make money putting ads next to pictures.

But Facebook is actually showing promise in this area. 

It now sells an ad unit called “Sponsored Stories.” Sponsored Stories go right into the News Feed in Facebook’s mobile app.  

As of couple of months ago, this unit was bringing in $500,000 per day for Facebook. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but it makes Facebook the second biggest mobile ad seller on the planet. Sponsored Stories would go just fine into the Instagram home screen, which serves a very similar function to the Facebook News Feed. 

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