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Facebook Completes WhatsApp Acquisition

WhatsApp With That?

Recently, the subtlety with which Facebook have attempted to take over the world has dropped to near-Pinky and the Brain levels. First, they invested millions to ensure their video sharing service would rival (and even beat) YouTube's. They then introduced Atlas, the attempt to topple Google’s online advertising monopoly that came dangerously close to completely disregarding users' privacy. Now, at a time when future Messenger features are being leaked almost daily, Facebook want an even larger slice of the friend-to-friend mobile conversation marketshare.

To get it, they've completed the $22bn purchase of WhatsApp, the most popular SMS alternative in the known universe.

Due to fears that a merger of this size would leave Facebook with a mobile messaging monopoly, many members of the European telecoms industry were vehemently against the sale. But the purchase, which cost Facebook 177,760,669 shares (worth around £48 each) on top of the $22bn paid in cash, was eventually, inevitably, given the go-ahead by EU regulators.

According to the council of mysterious elders who govern such things, the deal was greenlit because the two products were "not close competitors." I completely agree; there's a huge difference between an app which is "just like texting, but you don't have to pay for every message (it works with your data plan)" and an app which lets you "chat as much as you want. Send a million messages a day to your friends for free!" (if you want an idea for a fun game, try and guess which service is which before clicking on either link). In fact, one wonders why Facebook would even want to purchase an app that's so radically different from the rest of the services they provide in the first place.

On the plus side, those frightened that Facebook will ruin WhatsApp needn't worry; they've pledged not to interfere in any way, and will in fact leave the service to its own devices a la their purchase of Instagram. In Zuckerberg's own words, it would be "pretty stupid" of them to alter an app whose incredible success over the last five years is what makes it so desirable in the first place. Even more good news: he's also promised to keep the service ad-free and just as functional as ever. This means there should be absolutely no negative consequences for the end user - unless you're a hipster with an honour-bound aversion to lining Facebook's pockets. 

With more monthly users than Twitter (450 million as opposed to 241 million), Mark Zuckerberg claims to be confident that WhatsApp will one day follow Facebook’s lead and reach the magical 1 billion monthly users mark. Zuckerberg, clearly chuffed with his new toy, then went on to say that WhatsApp is “the only app we've ever seen that has grown more quickly than Facebook itself.”
facebook buy whatsapp
Source: dailymail.co.uk
In an interesting twist to the whole affair, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, WhatsApp’s founders, were rejected by Facebook years before making it. Now, Koum will join Facebook's board as part of the deal, with both men becoming billionaires overnight. A mightily impressive last laugh, but I bet they'd swap it all for a few of the lovely rejection emails companies have copy-pasted to me since I finished university.


Emile is a postgrad from the University of Saint Mark and Saint John. He’s hoping to break into journalism or publishing, and won’t stop blogging until he’s managed it! Follow him @EmileAtSMF.

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Facebook Completes WhatsApp Acquisition Reviewed by Emile Cole on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 Rating: 5
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