Websites and apps are worth a lot, that should be obvious by now. Back in 2012, Instagram raked in $1 billion when Facebook decided it was about time to buy out its competition. In 2005, Rupert Murdoch bought Myspace for $580 million, and even Bebo, which was by this point pretty much redundant, managed to go for $1.3 billion in 2008.
I know we're supposed to be a digital generation or something, but it still seems weird to spend millions—nay, billions—on things that don't physically exist outside of the dots and dashes on your screen. Take away the internet and what do "Facebook," "Myspace," and "Instagram" even mean? The internet's a self-sustaining economy, a world invented and then monetized and now pretty much all pervasive. If the Internet went away tomorrow not only would I be out of a job, I'd probably also be hit with a severe identity crisis, desperately clinging to those Facebook photos I allowed to replace my memories like a stubborn child clings to a lamppost.
Anyway, the point is King Digital Entertainment, the company behind Candy Crush, announced this morning it is selling to Activision Blizzard for the stupid figure of $5.9 billion. Let me emphasize that: the company best known for making Candy Crush—a game played by commuters trying to assuage their social awkwardness and avoid eye contact with the person opposite—was bought for5.9 billion dollars. A figure so large I literally just had to type it into Google to figure out how many zeros it had. But when you consider that last year, the users of the app spent roughly $1.3 billion on in-app purchases, that figure begins to make more sense.
Still, the problem is I don't understand what big numbers mean. That's why politicians throw them around so easily. A million, $100 million: It's all the same to me. So how many things could you buy for $5.9 billion? An island? A football team? A trip to Mars? Here's what I found that amount of cash can get you:
504 Luxury Tropical Islands ($11 Million)
Back in 1978, Richard Branson bought Necker Island off the coast of Puerto Rico for a scoop at £117,000 [$180,000]. An estimated £6.5 million [$10 million] spent on developing the island's infrastructure brings that total up to £7.15 million [$11 million] including all the standards: tennis court, helipad, and a palatial Balinese-style villa. That might sound like a lot to your unadjusted brain, but within the silicone valley world that's 1/504 of King Digital Entertainment or in layman's terms "peanuts."
Two Mars Rover Missions
Meanwhile an actual, physical, interplanetary space mission to Mars cost NASA $2.47 billion. That's right, a journey into outer space cost half as much as a digital company responsible for creating a game in which you move virtual shapes around a screen. Sure, a trip to Mars is probably a waste of money too, but at least it's money being used to actually achieve something, not moving a set of pixels up and down so you don't have to think about your life.
172 Glastonbury festivals ($5.8 billion)
Though the festival famously barely cuts a profit, Michael Eavis admitted in 2008 that it costs about £22 million [$34 million] a year to put on. That's not too shoddy for a festival with a population the size of Brighton, and it still only costs 1/172ndth of the price of Candy Crush.
One and a bit Manchester United FCs ($3.5 Billion)
The beautiful game get's a hard time for its excesses, but compared to Candy Crush, FIFA's really dealing with small potatoes. Take Manchester United for example. At just £2.3 billion [$3.5 billion] net worth, you could be forgiven for thinking it's a youth league team and not a Premier League squad with a more than sizable fan base.
49 copies of Munch's 'The Scream' ($5.8 billion)
Edvard Munch's profound depiction of man's alienation in a world beyond comprehension is the 11th most expensive painting ever sold, going for $119.9 milllion back in 2012. That means you could buy it 48 times over for the same price as King Digital Entertainment. Or you could numb the pain of existence by moving some cartoon diamonds around a 3.5-inch screen.
Eight and a half Shards ($5.8 billion)
If shiny glass protrusions funded by Quatari billionaires is more your cup of tea, £3.8 billion [$5.8 billion] could pay the contract costs for approximately eight-and-a-half Shards. Because nothing says money well spent like pointless skyscrapers blighting London's skyline.
Ten Olympic stadiums ($5.9 billion)
On the topic of dubious decisions made by the Mayor of London, for $5.9 billion you could evict a couple of hundred people from their homes and build ten Olympic stadiums.
One and a half HSBC Bankers Bonuses
For the same amount Activision Blizzard paid for King Digital, you could have paid all the bonuses for HSBC bankers during the year 2015 and still have a million left over. That said, you would not have been able to pay off the £500 billion [$770 billion] injected by the taxpayer after the financial crash in 2008.