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Say what? Facebook buys mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $16 billion

What’s green and costs $16 billion? WhatsApp apparently, in Facebook’s eyes at least, as the company has just laid down cash to purchase the popular instant messaging service.

WhatsApp’s been doing pretty well for itself of late. Not only is it one of the most popular cross-platform messaging services for mobile users around, but its most recent figures cite around one million new activations a day, and that’s on top of the 450 million active monthly users it’s currently seeing. To put that into perspective, that’s up from 400 million active monthly users last December.

All that being said, this most recent development spells significant change for the company’s future and the future of millions of users across the globe, as a result of its purchase by Facebook for a cool $16 billion.

HTC First - the failed Facebook phone

As TheNextWeb details in its report, Facebook’s latest purchase is split in a number of ways, with $4 billion going to WhatsApp in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares (making the total $16 billion) and an extra $3 billion in vested stock options for the WhatsApp staff over the next four years. On the management side of things, WhatsApp’s CEO Jan Koum will also be joining Facebook’s board of directors too.

Following announcement of the purchase, Koum took to the official WhatsApp Blog to outline the next steps in his company’s future, stating, “ Doing this [‘partnering’ with Facebook] will give WhatsApp the flexibility to grow and expand, while giving me, Brian, and the rest of our team more time to focus on building a communications service that’s as fast, affordable and personal as possible.”

The words themselves appear reassuring, but what does this truthfully mean for WhatsApp users going forward? “Nothing”, in Koum’s own words, as he goes on to explain that despite the new owners, the core values of WhatsApp aren’t set to change. You’ll still be able to use the service on a multitude of smartphones and operating systems, you’ll still be able to use the service ad-free and you’ll still only be required to pay a nominal fee for access each year.

WhatsApp

All this means, however, that WhatsApp is not only run by Facebook, but in direct competition with the one of the company’s own messaging apps, Facebook Messenger. Whether Facebook see’s this as an obstacle remains to be seen, but the last, admittedly less successful chat service which it acquired, Beluga, was allowed to operate for only just a few short months following purchase before ‘the big F’ closed it down.

WhatsApp is just one of numerous significant purchases on Facebook’s part over the last few years, most notably snapping up Instagram for ‘just’ $1 billion back in 2012, and attempting to buy popular picture messaging service Snapchat last year for a reported $3 billion, although the Snapchat team eventually rejected the offer, prior to its very public security leaks.

So how do you feel about this? Are you concerned that the future of WhatsApp is in jeopardy, or are you indifferent to its owners so long as your service remains the same? Let us know in the comments down below.

Update (20/4/14): Following the shock announcement of Facebook’s latest acquistion, a writer for Fortune has just revealed that two independant sources verified that Google had previously submittied an offer to WhatsApp for $10 billion, sans the promise of a board seat, like the once Facebook just offered Koum. Was the WhatsApp team right to accept Facebook’s offer, or would Google have been the better owner?

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