Facebook continued its acquisition streak with the announcement late Wednesday that it will purchase popular messaging service WhatsApp for a cash and stock deal worth approximately $16 billion. As it promised with its acquisition of Instagram in 2012, Facebook told users and investors that it would allow WhatsApp to continue to operate independently following the deal.
Facebook already has its own messaging service – Facebook Messenger – but CEO Mark Zuckerberg sees WhatsApp as complimentary to the company’s existing offerings and a way to help expand its reach. During an investor call following the announcement, Mr. Zuckerberg characterized WhatsApp messaging as “real-time” and Facebook Messenger as asynchronous, arguing that a place in the company’s ecosystem existed for both.
According to documents released to the press, WhatsApp has seen significant growth in the four years since its launch. With more than 450 million users per month, the service vastly exceeds the user base enjoyed by other large companies at the same four-year mark of their development, including Facebook, Gmail, Twitter, and Skype.
The WhatsApp acquisition is expected to close later this year.