While this is not a sudden development—rumors have been flying on this subject as far back as the end of 2012—it’s nevertheless a surprising one: Facebook has just inked the most expensive operation in its history by acquiring the instant messaging giant WhatsApp for $16 billion, according to an official press release.
Details on the acquisition
The operation involves $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in Facebook shares, as well as another $3 billion in shares to be granted in four years’ time. According to Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp: “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 [Zuckerberg] and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world”.
It’s still a bit soon to know if there will be some sort of transformation of the services offered by each entity, but at the moment there is no plan to fuse Facebook Messenger with WhatsApp, nor will the latter begin to include any sort of ads.
WhatsApp and Facebook in numbers
News stories on the enormous growth in WhatsApp’s IM service have been recurrent every few months. Today, more than 450 million people use the app every month, and 70% of those use it daily; but it’s in the rate of user growth where you realize that the acquisition may even prove a cheap one for Facebook: WhatsApp currently has a million new users registering every day. Given these numbers, in just a short time WhatsApp messages will top the global volume of information shared in traditional text messages.
Facebook, for its part, currently has 1.23 billion active monthly users, of whom more than 900 million access the service from their mobile devices, which helps to contextualize the current acquisition in view of changing market trends. Nevertheless, forecasts for this social network are not brilliant, and some studies even affirm that from 2014 Facebook might start to decline and follow a lifecycle like other former behemoths such as the now-moribund MySpace.