Facebook has agreed to acquire the mobile messaging company WhatsApp for about $19 billion, according to the BBC. The cross-platform will get $4bn in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares and, later on, $3bn in stock for its founders and 50 employees. Until now, Facebook’s biggest acquisition was Instagram, for which it paid $1bn in 2012.
“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said. “I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”
The acquisition supports Facebookâ€™s policy to bring more connectivity and utility by delivering core internet services efficiently and affordably, according to the 19 February announcement. Facebook also said the new combination will help accelerate growth and user engagement across both companies.
The messaging network and Facebookâ€™s existing Messenger app will continue to operate as standalone applications.
â€œWhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide,â€ WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum said. â€œWe’re excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.â€
Jan Koum, who will join Facebookâ€™s Board of Directors, told WhatsApp users that “nothing” will change, including its ad policy.
â€œYou can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication,” Koum wrote. “There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles.”
WhatsApp has become a rapidly growing cross-platform, where over 450 million people are active each month, with a messaging volume approaching the entire global telecom SMS volume.
Besides Instagram and WhatsApp, Zuckerberg also showed interest last year for smartphone app Snapchat, which allegedly turned down his $3 billion offer.