WhatsApp and Facebook down, hefty bill for Zuckerberg

The problem that sent Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp down has cost Mark Zuckerberg's company more than $100 million. Here's why

When Facebook or WhatsApp go down and don't work for a few hours, for hundreds of millions of users of these two services it's a real bummer. We've grown so accustomed to using Mark Zuckerberg's social network and messaging service that we take them for granted, and when they go down, we sometimes get angry.

But our annoyances are nothing compared to the problems Facebook Inc. itself has when something goes wrong, and the recent down of Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp on March 13 proves it: the Menlo Park-based company, in fact, lost tens, if not hundreds, of millions of dollars from the malfunction that lasted almost 15 hours. How much exactly? It's not easy to calculate, but analysts are all talking about very high numbers.

How much money did Facebook lose on March 13, 2019

Remember that Facebook Inc. now counts about 2.6 billion users worldwide and that 2018 advertising revenues amounted to $55 billion (for Facebook alone, not counting those of other apps). But these revenues, since all of the company's services are free, are based on the user being online and being able to see the ads. So if the user can't use Facebook (or Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp), then for Facebook Inc. it's a real problem.

From the first calculations, considering that in the last quarter of 2018 the company earned $7.25 for each user connected, it would therefore seem that the down of about 15 hours in mid-March cost Facebook more than $100 million. That is, more or less 8 million per hour. A figure that may seem stratospheric, but that should be compared with net revenue (realtive to the whole year 2018) of $ 22.11 billion. Revenues that, by the way, from 2017 to 2018 have grown a lot: +39%, since in 2017 Facebook recorded net earnings of "only" 15.9 billion dollars.

More than absolute numbers, then Facebook should worry about something else: poorly managed downs that last too long in addition to annoying users infuriate advertising investors. That is, millions of companies large and small around the world that advertise on Facebook. In an interview with The Verge, for example, Jason Wong of Wonghaus Ventures explains that while Facebook was down, his company was running an advertising campaign that, of course, was not seen by anyone. The lost revenue for those 15 hours is estimated at $10,000.