Facebook has officially agreed to buy the instant messaging app WhatsApp for a record-breaking $19 billion. The deal is 25% cash and 75% stock, according to the Financial Times, and dwarves Facebook’s 2012 acquisition of Instagram for $1 billion. WhatsApp currently boasts approximately 450 million unique users; as Telegraph writer Katherine Rushton notes, this move effectively transforms “one of [Facebook’s] biggest potential threats into a valuable ally.”
“WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide,” says WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, who is “excited and honoured” to be joining the Facebook fold.
If this all sounds like a bit of a whirlwind to you, well, that’s because it is. While Koum and Zuckerberg have known each other for a few years, the acquisition has only become a topic of discussion in the last two weeks. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has stated that while the app will retain its own brand and continue to operate independently, Facebook and WhatsApp will be working together moving forward “to make the world more open and connected.”
Twitter exploded when the news broke, with many users quick to denounce WhatsApp on the rather baseless grounds that “Facebook will ruin it.” But don’t delete the app just yet; Zuckerberg has no immediate intention to start spamming WhatsAppers with ads, having asserted that he doesn’t believe ads are “the right way to monetize messaging systems.” And Koum has been quick to reassure users, saying: “You can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication.”