Misplaced Priority: Ducati vs Instagram
by Zack Klapman
Today it was announced that VW bought Ducati for $1.12 billion. People are calling it a “trophy purchase”, something Ferdinand Piech did just because he loves Ducatis, and VW had a spare billion lying around that needed to be re-invested, lest they be forced to give more cash to shareholders; something shareholders would hate. Also sold today, for $1 billion, was the picture-violating tyrant known as Instagram. Question: Why is a company with 12 employees and no tangible product, that does nothing but make your pictures look as clear as a Bigfoot picture, worth almost as much as the greatest motorcycle company ever?
You see, Ducati builds things like this, the 1198 SP.
I think it’s the best looking “race replica” bike ever. But even if you disagree, that’s irrelevant. The point is someone made it. Using elements extracted from the ground. People got hurt digging up metal ore. Designers probably had t look for inspiration in a smooth pebble found deep in the Mediterranean or something. People had to draw it, then guys had to make pieces of metal, then put that metal together. It turns on, it makes noise, it can even carry a human across vast distances. It’s. A. THING. And it’s not the only one they make; they make a bunch of these things! And they’re all different! And they make life great!
Now let’s look at what Instagram does.
Here’s a photograph of a castle in France that my cousin visited on her honeymoon:
Timeless beauty, ancient architecture rich with stories and history. Now let’s put the same picture through Instagram, and see what it “makes” it into:
See what I mean? Ruined. All the details of the architecture are completely lost, the color is completely uniform, most of the windows have inexplicably disappeared, I just don’t get it. She can’t point to this and say “Here’s where we honeymooned.” We’d have to put her t sleep. But somehow, by getting millions of people seeking individuality to make their pictures look like everyone else’s: billion dollars.
Instagram is just an electronic filter, it’s a program, ones and zeroes. It lays an effect on a picture to make that lake house picture from this summer look like it was taken by a newspaper in 1973 after a triple homicide.
And I get why Facebook bought it. Instagram was probably stealing people away for picture sharing. So you buy the competition. Makes sense, especially when you have an IPO coming up. It’s certainly a more fiscally responsible purchase than VW buying Ducati. Rumor is Piech just really likes Ducatis, and regretted not buying it back in 1985 when it was dirt cheap.
“The Ducati purchase is driven by VW’s passion for nameplates rather than industrial or financial logic,” said Arndt Ellinghorst, analyst at London-based Credit Suisse.
Hey, if I had that much money around, I would do it too. It’s cool to be connected to something you love. But at least with Ducati, you’re connected to an actual thing. You’ve bought a place, with people, and metal things, that make shit.
Kids today, what’s the world coming to, blah blah blah.