Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) founder Bill Gates revealed that his company considered purchasing WhatsApp. The popular instant messaging app was recently acquired by Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB), but Microsoft could have bought it instead.

Bill Gates

Microsoft’s choice

Bill Gates explained the matter to Rolling Stone: “Microsoft would have been willing to buy it, too. I don’t know for $19bn, but the company’s extremely valuable… I think [Zuckerberg’s] aggressiveness is wise – although the price is higher than I would have expected. It shows that user bases are extremely valuable.”

Social media giant Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) purchased WhatsApp for $19 billion last month. Last year, Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) reportedly wanted to purchase the app for $1 billion but WhatsApp rebuffed it.

Microsoft was launched by Bill Gates back in 1975, and has long since changed technology. The company already owns Skype, which offers instant messaging and voice-over-IP service (VoIP). It is considered a freemium service which means users can download it and use it for free, but extra features will cost more. What is interesting is that Microsoft owns a small piece of WhatsApp, even if indirectly. The company owns about 1.6% stake in Facebook which is now worth $28 billion in valuation.

Bill Gates compares himself to Facebook founder

In the interview, Bill Gates also praised Mark Zuckerberg’s drive while adding that Zuckerberg is really just a product manager. He said Zuckerberg started out with products while he got his start as a coder and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) co-founder Steve Jobs got his start in aesthetics.

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) has been thinking a lot about the future lately and for good reason. It is evident the tech giant is struggling to compete in a market where Apple dominates with iPads and iPhones. Now it’s reported the company wants to fight with companies that create office apps which compete directly with Microsoft Office. In a world that’s going mobile, tech companies are creating useful office-based apps instead of waiting for Microsoft to create one.