In what can be seen as another step towards stricter regulation of the business practices of tech giants, the UK's Company and Market Authority (CMA) ruled that Meta's acquisition of Giphy for $400 million be unwound due to concerns over competition restrictions in the segment. While the online GIF catalog is one of the most recent additions to the growing number of corporations Facebook's parent company has absorbed, it's far from the most expensive.
As our chart shows, that honor still goes to WhatsApp. The messaging service founded in 2009 by programmers Brian Acton and Jan Koum was purchased by Meta in February of 2014 for $16 billion in cash and stocks. Its first move towards messaging and social media dominance came two years earlier though. On April 9, 2012, the company bought Instagram for the then incredible sum of $1 billion. Six years later, a Bloomberg Intelligence report valued the social media platform at $100 billion. While most of Meta's acquisitions have been user-centric like Oculus' virtual reality system, messaging service Redkix and the aforementioned Giphy, Instagram and WhatsApp, the tech giant also recently invested in more business-focused ventures like the CRM tool Kustomer bought for $1 billion one year ago.
Companies like Meta, Alphabet and Twitter have been under scrutiny by governments and independent watchdogs for some time, but the pressure on big tech continued to mount during 2021. From senate hearings on misinformation, privacy, data safety and the adverse effect of social media algorithms on young users around to world to hefty fines for GDPR breaches, some government officials claim that the age of social media corporations doing as they please is over. "Recent revelations about harm to kids online show that Big Tech is facing its Big Tobacco moment — a moment of reckoning," U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said during a panel in October. How far-reaching the effects of these hearings will be in the end remains to be seen.