Jim Cramer Tells Facebook to Drop Libra and Buy Square

Neil Dennis

Jim Cramer, the energetic host of CNBC's Mad Money, advised Facebook on his Thursday night show to drop Libra and buy Square, the San Francisco-based payments company.

Focusing on Big Tech, the mega-cap sector that has come under ever-increased scrutiny from governments and regulators over its  growing global influence, he said companies such as Amazon, Alphabet and Facebook "need more grown-ups at the top".

On Facebook's cryptocurrency project, he said:

The Treasury department is not thrilled with Facebook's plan to launch its own cryptocurrency - talk about a self-inflicted wound.

More Heavy Hitters Needed

Indeed, earlier this week David Marcus, Facebook's executive at the helm of the Libra project, faced combative US lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Senator Sherrod Brown, chair of the Senate Banking Committee, said Facebook displayed a "breathtaking amount of arrogance" to suggest it could run its own bank.

Cramer believes Big Tech companies will face more of this hostility around the world as they grow and suggested:

They need more heavy hitters out there: if they simply bring in some unassailable outside counsel with real credibility - a distinguished retired federal judge from somewhere - then maybe the government would allow them to self regulate again.

A New Plan

However, Cramer said he was not worried about Facebook, partially because its Instagram business is on fire. But mainly because he has a better plan for the company. He said - aiming his statement directly at Facebook's top management:

I like the Libra concept but you've got to drop it. It's clearly doing more harm than good. Instead, just take some of your money and go and buy Square.

He suggested the price tag for the payments network run by Twitter boss Jack Dorsey would be somewhere around the $70 billion mark - a 100% premium over the current market value, but "no one turns down a hundred per cent premium".

And it would be worth it, buying the company for annual revenues of around $3.3 billion. Cramer added:

Then they can blow out Square's payments network worldwide and Square cash is going to be Facebook cash. And don't forget they take bitcoin so they can still get their cryptocurrency fix.

Evan Niu, technology specialist at The Motley Fool website, disagreed, however, suggesting that buying Square for its relatively minor exposure to bitcoin would be a waste of Facebook's capital. He added:

Additionally, Facebook's terrible reputation would tarnish Square's if Facebook acquired it, undermining the massive amount of goodwill it would inevitably record from such a large transaction.

Big Tech's Problem

Speaking more broadly on the issues of government and regulatory scrutiny now aimed squarely at the powerful Big Tech sector, Cramer said these companies needed to find a way to self examine. He added:

Being in the crosshairs of the federal government is going to cost these companies money.

Alphabet, he said, has "incredible power" and possesses the "ability to be coercive", which means there's earnings risk and even break-up risk as presidential elections approach.

Speaking to all Big Tech companies, he advidonsed:

They have the money, I know they don't want to slow down the innovation, but they lack a powerful, well-known outside counsel who can tell them what's right or wrong.