updated 06:32 pm EST, Wed February 19, 2014
WhatsApp to remain independent despite Facebook acquisition
Facebook has announced it will acquire messaging service WhatsApp for $16 billion. The deal, surfacing in an SEC filing, will see Facebook part with $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in shares for the messaging app, though there is an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units for WhatsApp founders and employees that will vest four years after the deal has closed.
WhatsApp currently has over 450 million monthly active subscribers globally and over 320 million daily active users, according to a company blog post by co-founder and CEO Jan Koum. While it is claimed the acquisition will not affect users directly, with WhatsApp set to remain anonymous and operating independently of Facebook, Koum states the purchase "will give WhatsApp the flexibility to grow and expand and gives the team "more time to focus on building a communications service that's as fast, affordable, and personal as possible."
Shortly after the deal went public, Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg noted the purchase will "provide new tools for our community," claiming "WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable." Speaking about the possible overlap between the new acquisition and the existing Facebook Messenger service, Zuckerberg advises "since WhatsApp and Messenger serve such different and important uses, we will continue investing in both and making them each great products for everyone."
According to Facebook, WhatsApp has added more than 1 million new registered users every day, and has a messaging volume approaching "the entire global telecom SMS volume."
The purchase of WhatsApp comes less than a week after a similar acquisition by Rakuten, who bought Skype competitor Viber for a more modest $900 million.