Just in case you thought our headlong rush into the future was starting to level off, consider what Facebook just did: They paid $1 billion for an app called Instagram.
For those of us who still haven't quite come to terms with Facebook as a dominant social medium in our lives, it might come as a bit of a shock that the company has a billion dollars kicking around to spend on an app you may never have heard of.
And yet, that's the way it goes in our brave new world.
Instagram is an app you can install on a smartphone that allows you to quickly share your pictures with friends on the Internet. You also have the option of adding funky filters, which are a hit with many users.
At this point you may be wondering how that translates into being worth $1 billion. Just to put things into perspective, many are saying that makes Instagram worth more than the New York Times. Facebook itself is expected to be worth $100 billion when it goes to an initial public offering on the stock market.
Here's another way of looking at it: the price paid for Instagram works out to $77 million for each of its 13 employees. Kodak, the company that was the inspiration for Instagram's style, is bankrupt and has 7,600 employees. At $1 billion, Instagram — less than two years old — is worth the equivalent of 12 Kodaks.
And one more amazing stat: The Wall Street Journal reports that according to FactSet Research, that would make it worth more than 423 companies in the S&P 1500.
The source of this incredible valuation comes down to three things: millions of users, branding and the fact that Facebook wants to build on them.
Let's face it — you can already share pictures using Facebook. But millions of people have opted for Instagram's ease-of-use and reputation for being hip.
Which leads us to the branding. Many Instagram users were appalled when they heard that their favourite app had been bought out by Facebook. In fact, one 12-year-old complained on Twitter that Facebook is "stupid and used by old people."
Yes, even though you may have caught up with the Facebook trend, you're still behind the times. Already, a whole new generation is looking ahead to the next big thing. (As an aside, many young people are abandoning Facebook for Twitter because they feel there are too many "old" people on Facebook.)
So what's the answer for those trying desperately to keep up? We don't have a definitive answer, but recent studies have shown that people are consuming more news than ever. And they're finding it in more places than ever.
No doubt Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is one of the most voracious news consumers of all.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by publisher Tim Shoults, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.