By 20 February 2014 | Categories: news


In arguably this year’s most eye-raising acquisition to date, Facebook has acquired popular messaging service WhatsApp for a cool $19 billion (R190 billion). This is a far cry from what Facebook paid for another popular app, Instagram, which it picked up for a comparatively paltry $715 million.

However, what the two have in common is that, like Instagram, WhatsApp will retain its brand and remain as a service separate from the social media monolith; adhering to the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it’. The acquisition has been touted as complementing Facebook’s existing messaging and chat services (which let’s face it, haven’t been that great) while providing “new tools” for Facebook users.

According to Facebook, the move will also help it “bring connectivity and utility to the world,” the company explained during its announcement, with both company’s sharing that joint missive. So why exactly did Facebook find WhatsApp such a tasty and enticing morsel to snap up?

Well, WhatsApp’s figures tell a story of their own. More than 450 million people apparently use the app in a month, while 70% of its users are apparently active per day. Averaging these figures out reveals that WhatsApp has an active user base of some 10.5 million per day.

Facing facts

Given the indomitable popularity of smartphones, and the myriad of apps and web content begging for users’ attention on these devices, this is a significant number of eyeballs that are turning to the messaging service. What’s more, WhatsApp is also experiencing runaway growth, currently adding in excess of a million new users per day.

Suffice to say, based on the terms of the deal, WhatsApp certainly has reason to crack open the bubbly. Under the deal, the app creators will received $16 billion in cash and stock, and a further $3 billion in restricted stock for WhatsApp employees.   

"WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable," commented Facebook founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

“WhatsApp's extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide. We're excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world,” added Jan Koum, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO. Koum will now take up a seat on Facebook’s Board of Directors.

So what does this mean for users? Possibly not much, at least from a user perspective for the moment. One thing is for certain - Facebook (love it or hate it) has become an even bigger, more indomitable player in the social media, communication and sharing space.


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