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back to article UK regulators eye up Facebook's $1bn Instagram bid

Facebook's bid to buy photo-sharing app Instagram for $1bn will be probed by the UK's Office of Fair Trading, according to the watchdog, which invited informal submissions of comment on Friday. The dominant social network's takeover plan of Instagram has concerned the OFT, which is worried that the photo app market could be …

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What I'd like...

What I would love to see, is this acquisition blocked, if only for the reason that the idea of some of these sleazebag venture capitalists getting a 360-fold return on their investment, really sickens me....

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Ooops. Correction.

From http://www.theregister.co.uk/2012/04/23/andreesseen_instagram_facebook/ :

"Andreessen's partner Ben Horowitz reckons the duo have made 312 times their original investment in the zero-revenue smartphone photo sharing site after committing $250,000 two years ago. That'll be worth $78,000,000 (£54m) when the acquisition closes, Horowitz wrote here"

(My original post has 360 instead of 312.)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ooops. Correction.

But Marc Andreessen co-authored Mosaic and launched Netscape, surely he deserves it.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Ooops. Correction.

4 downvotes? Must be a lot of teenagers around here.

Look little boys, if not for Mr Andreessen we'd all be stuck in portals like Compuserve, AOL and maybe Microsoft Network. Oh shit you don't know what that is do you? Well imagine if the whole web was Facebook.

Show Mr Andreessen some respect. He fought Microsoft and saved all our souls.

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Re: Ooops. Correction.

... and a crap version of Facebook, at that. And yes, I typed what I meant.

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Re: Ooops. Correction.

That, without reservation, is a serious overstatement.

Andreessen - as he has said himself - was lucky. Timing is everything. He was plucked out because he was reasonably articulate, decent looking and had some talent. He wasn't a messiah, Anon.

Besides, if not Andreessen, then someone else who was nearby. The place was - and still is - teeming with decent talent.

That said, I truly wish guys like Suckthebird were shuttered by the PR team in favor of someone who could actually put a sentence or two together on a regular basis.

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Re: Ooops. Correction.

Oh puh-lease. Andreessen's contribution is tiny compared to all that has passed since those ancient times. Sure he should be acknowledged, but let's not elevate him unduly.

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Anonymous Coward

"photo app market could be stifled if Facebook's acquisition completes"

Good! I see one more 12 year old posting a wonky picture from a mobile, applying a shitty brown "retro" filter 'cos they think they're really doing something new and exciting, I'll scream! Photography is an art, it takes skill and practice to make a decent job of composition and editing, simply slapping a high-key filter on a picture of your mate not smiling is not really a skill. Let's not even start on the countless shots of "kitties & titties"...

I bet Deguerre and Adams are spinning in their graves!

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Thumb Down

What a load of crap

If it wasn't for point and shoot photographers in the past there would be no money to develope more professional kit

Anyway what's wrong with them doing that, its better than what they could be doing. theres no harm in it and no ones forcing you to look at it.

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Boffin

The first rule of Interweb Photography is: "Sepia tone makes AWESOME."

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Devil

Let's put the art aside, shall we?

I am going to put the art argument aside as my 10 year old can do photography better than most adults (I have taken my time to teach him and try to refresh it from time to time too).

It is the predominant content and application which I have a problem with here.

Social. Picture. Mobile. Camera - for me this spells the words "Happy Slapping Riot Lolz, beat the N00B" in 32 point bold all caps.

I can see how this can be worth 1Bn in advertising revenue to someone who has no principles and does not care what it is used for as long as it brings impressions. Fits the ideas of F***book spot on.

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Thumb Up

Re: Let's put the art aside, shall we?

You, dear Sir, are spot on.

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Anonymous Coward

What is the world coming to when what amounts to an online photo sharing site, with an app that makes your photos look weird, is worth $1Billion?

I get the idea of the app, most smart phones have crap cameras, adding a filter helps hides the photos low quality, and the poor skill of the person taking it...

Great then it uploads to all your social media sharing rubbish, I get that people want their lives public so any perv can take a look...

BUT what I don't get is why a free service is worth 1Billion!!!

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Anonymous Coward

It's not!

No business model, no way in hell is it worth $1Bn, it's Zuckerberg having a brain spasm with someone else's money and buying the world's most expensive executive toy (like when Sun was considering buying Apple), I wish the FB shareholders could revolt but they have no voting power so they're screwed.

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I find this strange ....

The OFT is worried that an organisation which provides me (if i choose to use it) with a free service, has bought up another organisation that can provide me with a free service. What does this have to do with TRADE?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: What does this have to do with TRADE?

It may get in the way of organisations that may want to sell us a service, in exchange for an absence of privacy intrusions and plain vanilla theft of personal intellectual property.

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Re: What does this have to do with TRADE?

When the heck has the government been against privacy intrusion and property theft, said the guy who was auditted by the IRS?

Oh, wait, someone ELSE is doing it? Ah, that's different.

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Bronze badge

Personally

as a user I don't understand the attraction for Instagram, I tried the android version for about 5 minutes decided I could use the memory space for something more worthwhile (noughts and crosses springs to mind) deleted it. Doesn't do anything special as far as I can see.

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Joke

Re: Personally

It's social sharing for people who like to take photographs.

You can present your friends and family to other friends and family members in embarrassing/amazing/unfortunate/funny photographs and have a good old guffaw about it.

You can post pictures of amazing events, such as a landslide, a volcano or the number 10 bus failing to stop for you and share it with whoever you want.

Better still, you can put some gee-whiz-bang effects onto the photo's.

This can turn a photo of your dog into something that looks almost exactly like, but not quite, your dog.

Your dog could, for instance, be a dog from 1920 with the sepia filter. You could apply a groovy filter to your dog and hey presto, there's your dog in San Francisco in 1967, summer of love.

What more could you want? Ah, but wait, there's more!

You can apply a witty caption to your photo too - "My dog lovin' it up - he's just a big old hippy dog" or "My dog is the Great Gatsby - just look at his little 1920's fizog"

Now can you see the appeal of Instagram?

We've cleared this up, so I expect to see you on Instagram soon - but please, no more dog pictures.

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Re: Personally

And that, indeed, is worth more than twice what Larry Ellison just paid for Lenai.

Can you imagine what $1B in financial support could have done for, say, 1000 budding entrepreneurs? Might have been a photo-sharing app, or two, in that bunch.

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Joke

Yes. that's all fine and well...

... but how do we *monetize* this sucker, dammit!

Therein lies the ultimate problem here - and why Facebook shares plummeted like a hot potato.

Yep, there's ad revenue, we've got that - sorted.

And then there's ... erm, well, what exactly?

Aha - yes - of course - more advertising, but this time, smarter.

If I'm selling a product and I can get it in front of enough eyeballs, I can offer a discount.

However, I need to pay the eyeball provider - and guarantee an exclusive deal.

Got that.

The other big trump card is data.

Data makes ad targeting more accurate - instead of the old 'throw shit at a wall and see what sticks', we can now throw shit at a specific brick to see what sticks. We can also throw the kinda shit that sticks better on that brick.

It's a great analogy - lets face it, most the stuff you see advertised online is ... shit.

But if it's shit that appeals to you, then it may just stick.

I've no bloody idea where I'm going with this...

Ah yes, Instagram, how can we *monetize* it. (Note the use of American spelling - important)

Grab the data, throw shit at it. Money rolls in. Everyones a winner.

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Happy

Re: Yes. that's all fine and well...

I've no bloody idea either but I was enjoying the little stroll you took us on. I enjoy amusingly surreal but disturbingly relevant analogies - please continue with your insightful analysis.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yes. that's all fine and well...

Thanks frank, but I've had too much cider - I'm about to Instagram my backside for a laugh.

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Silver badge

Hang on a minute...

...last time I checked, Facebook and Instagram are both in the US, and Facebook is listed on the NASDAQ. How, then, is it the UK's business whether one buys the other?

Damn UK! Always thinks it's the WORLD'S POLICEMAN! It's a WORLD GONE MAD! WHY, I...

Ahem. Where was I?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Hang on a minute...

Probably the same reason the U.S. pokes its oar into purely European mergers & acquisitions; as I understand it, if either party has significant operations in a country, the authorities in said country can have their say.

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Re: Hang on a minute...

There are often subsidiaries in of one or the other companies in the nation at hand.

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Re: Hang on a minute...

"There are often subsidiaries in of one or the other companies..."

Well, I find it hard to believe that Instagram has much in the way of UK subsidiaries, given that they have (or had) 12 people working for them. And how is there a monopoly here? What market does Instagram have cornered? If it's not legit for Facebook to add a feature by buying a company, would it still be legitimate for them to develop it on their own? What if they poached all 12 guys from Instagram and started a division called Graduagram? This would be functionally identical, but...

Eh. That way lies madness.

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Meh

One of those news items that makes me wonder what the Competition Commission is actually for. If Facebook wants to spend billions on today's fad, let them do it. If they actually manage to make something positive of the shareholders' money they're about to piss away then good on them.

Ultimately, in this case I think the competition authorities can only render judgement on what might be rather than anything definitive about a monopoly here and now.

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WTF?

I have to ask... What the chuffing fuck does this have to do with the OFT?

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Coat

Competition?

Let them waste their money. I'm sticking with the Gimp - it's free.

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