Mark Zuckerberg: WhatsApp is worth more than $19 billion

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg at MWC 2014

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is at MWC 2014 making the case for connecting everyone in the world to the internet, and he also dropped a juicy tidbit about his company's pricey new purchase.

Jaws dropped when news broke last week that Facebook spent $19 billion (about £11.29b, AU$20b) on mobile messaging service WhatsApp, but Zuckerberg may have under paid.

"I think by itself, it's is worth more than $19 billion," he said of WhatsApp. "In reality, there are very few services that reach one billion people. It could be the one service that reaches one billion and doesn't become valuable. If we can do a good job at helping WhatsApp to grow, then I think it's quite a good bet."

By Facebook's count, WhatsApp is on its way to connect one billion people. It's not there yet, but Zuckerberg seems 19-billion-dollars confident that Co-Founder Jan Koum and Co. can deliver.

The equation

Zuckerberg spent most of his time on the keynote stage talking about, an initiative spearheaded by Facebook to make the internet affordable and accessible to those in developing nations.

WhatsApp seems destined to play a role in that.

"I'm excited [about WhatsApp] because of the vision," Zuckerberg said. "By being a part of Facebook, WhatsApp can focus purely on connecting more people. If independent, they would have to focus on building out their own company. What Jan is excited about is for them to connect one, two, three billion more people."

Earlier Zuckerberg noted that in order to connect everyone to the web, Facebook needs to form partnerships "because we can't do it by ourselves." With connectivity, people who formerly didn't have access to things like basic financial services, health information and resources like Wikipedia.

Facebook's goal for is to "create a sort of on-ramp to the internet," one that can bring non-bandwidth sucking text-based services like Messenger to all corners of the world. Zuckerberg said the venture will probably not be profitable in the short term, but then again the company doesn't seem to concerned about near-term losses for long-term gains.

And the Snapchat question

There was one white elephant in the room someone just had to ask Zuckerberg, and that was whether Facebook will make another run at Snapchat.

"After buying a company for $16 billion, you're probably done for awhile," Zuck quipped.

Michelle Fitzsimmons

Michelle was previously a news editor at TechRadar, leading consumer tech news and reviews. Michelle is now a Content Strategist at Facebook.  A versatile, highly effective content writer and skilled editor with a keen eye for detail, Michelle is a collaborative problem solver and covered everything from smartwatches and microprocessors to VR and self-driving cars.