In an interview with CNBC at MWC this week, Blackberry CEO John Chen was asked about the WhatsApp purchase. Considering he runs a company that exists almost solely as a messenger service for consumers, putting him in direct competition with WhatsApp, his opinion is of interest. The answer to the question was unsurprising, as Chen said he’d gladly accept a similar offer.
Chen says he’d gladly take $19 billion for BBM, should someone come forth with an offer. “I know there is a lot of value in our messaging service” Chen said. When asked about selling BBM, Chen said “If someone came to me with $19 billion, I would definitely sell it.” Of course, he cautioned that such a decision is up to the board, but there would likely be no hurdles there.
Blackberry was nearly sold for just over $5 billion not long ago, but investors balked after the initial agreement to sell was struck. A $19 billion payday would be far and away more than BBM is worth, which CNBC points out could be right around $3.4 billion when compared to the WhatsApp purchase.
Chen also says BBM is tied into their enterprise service pretty closely, and the company is concentrating on building it out before entertaining any valuation. That’s probably a smart move, as a $3.4 billion valuation based on a terribly inflated WhatsApp purchase is likely overreaching. To their credit, Chen says Blackberry is focussed on their customers right now, and isn’t worrying about selling just yet. That, or nobody is asking for a sit-down to talk acquisition.