What does Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) have in common with bitcoin? On the surface, not much, but writing on DealBook, Rob Cox says there are indeed some similarities.
Facebook, bitcoin uses for purchases
The main similarity he notes is that both Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and bitcoin can be used for purchases, although neither is accepted at the local McDonald’s. Bitcoin is gradually becoming accepted at more and more businesses, although of course Facebook stock can’t be used as currency in day-to-day life. He does point out though, that WhatsApp founders gladly accepted some of the social network’s stock as part of the payment for Facebook to acquire their company.
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He also notes that both depend on a network of people willing to accept it as a form of currency. Of course Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB)’s network is much more literal in terms of actual people, who are monetized through advertisements posted on their Timelines. Bitcoin, on the other hand, is only worth something to those who see value in it as a currency.
Facebook can print more money
One difference is that there will eventually be only 21 million bitcoins in existence. The number can never go above that. However, Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) just issued 182 million more shares and 46 million restricted stock units to owners of WhatsApp to close the sale. So in essence, the social network basically printed its own money, which could be seen as a problem because it dilutes previous investors’ stakes in the social network. However, shares of Facebook rose more than 3% today, indicating that they weren’t just too worried about it.
Valuing Facebook and bitcoin
Another place the waters become murky is in terms of valuation. Does anyone really know what a bitcoin is really worth? The MIT Technology Review notes that the digital currency was four times more volatile last year than the average stock. The dollar to bitcoin exchange rate was ten times more volatile than the dollar up against major currencies like the yen or euro.
Cox seems to see Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) stock as being basically worthless, although using the company’s fundamentals provides investors with a way to value the social network—unlike bitcoin.
“Whatever the similarities, or differences, between the pseudo-currencies of Facebook shares and Bitcoins are, their values are clearly not fixed,” Cox writes. “Next to selling them, the wisest course of action would be to capitalize on their value. Mr. Zuckerberg just did that with Facebook stock in the WhatsApp deal.”
Of both investments, just like any other, are like a game of musical chairs. Whoever is left holding them when the music and excitement stop stand to lose quite a bit if they bought at the top.