In what will be its biggest acquisition ever, Facebook announced Wednesday that it's spending more than $16 billion to acquire the over-the-top messaging provider WhatsApp.
Facebook said in an SEC filing that it's splashing down $16 billion in cash and stock, as well as $3 billion in restricted stock for employees of the communications provider, which offers an app for free texting, group chats, and content sharing.
We've said in the past that WhatsApp would be a dream partner for a wireless operator looking to make a serious OTT play, but now it's another opportunity lost to a social network. (See Operators Can't Kik the OTT Habit.)
And it's a big opportunity, at that -- WhatsApp has more than 450 million monthly active users, 70% of which use the app more than once a day. Users send half a billion photos, 200 million voice messages, and 100 million videos over its network-riding service every single day.
WhatsApp, once a staunch Facebook competitor and rumored acquisition target for Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), might butt heads with its new owner on how to treat mobile ads. Facebook says WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, but whether it will remain ad free is another question. (See WhatsApps' $1B Message and Mobile Ads Rack Up Cash, Social Status.)
— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading