Mark Zuckerberg makes a major play in the mobile messaging arena
One thing is certain, Facebook isn't the least bit afraid to throw obscene amounts of cash at startups and services that have proven themselves in the public eye. It's a rather long list that includes Instagram ($1 billion), FriendFeed ($47.5 million), ConnectU ($31 million), and several others, though Facebook just announced its largest acquisition to date -- $19 billion for WhatsApp.
Zuckerberg made the surprise announcement on his Facebook page, stating that WhatsApp will help the world's largest social playground succeed in its mission to make the world more open and connected. It also helps that WhatsApp is attracting scores of new users on a daily basis.
"WhatsApp is a simple, fast and reliable mobile messaging service that is used by over 450 million people on every major mobile platform. More than 1 million people sign up for WhatsApp every day and it is on its way to connecting one billion people. More and more people rely on WhatsApp to communicate with all of their contacts every day," Zuckerberg said.
The entire WhatsApp team is being absorbed by Facebook where they'll continue to operate independently of the social network. Zuckerberg said the product roadmap will remain the same as well, so nothing really changes here except that the startup is now backed by a multi-billion dollar firm.
It's an interesting acquisition by Facebook considering the hefty price tag. WhatsApp doesn't have any advertising revenue and makes relatively little money by charging users $1 per year for the service, and that's after giving them the first year for free. Facebook's willingness to pay $19 billion for WhatsApp underscores the value it's putting on the mobile messaging game, as well how far it will go to retain social networking users.