Facebook Buys WhatsApp Mobile Messaging Company for $19B
With 450 million monthly users and a million more signing up each day, WhatsApp was just too far ahead in the international mobile messaging race for Facebook to catch up, as you can see in the chart above we made last year. Facebook either had to surrender the linchpin to mobile social networking abroad, or pony up and acquire WhatsApp before it got any bigger. It chose the latter.
Facebook recently said on its earnings call a few weeks ago that its November relaunch of Messenger led to a 70% increase in usage, with many more messages being sent. But much of that was likely in the United States and Canada where the standalone messaging app war is still to be won.
Internationally, Facebook was late to the Messenger party. It didn’t launch until 2011 after Facebook bought Beluga, and at the time it was centered around group messaging where SMS was especially weak.
WhatsApp launched in 2009 with the right focus on a lean, clean, and fast mobile messaging app. And while the international messaging market is incredibly fragmented, it was able to gain a major presence where Messenger didn’t as you can see in this chart above that we made about a year ago.
Unlike PC-based social networking, there is no outstanding market leader in mobile messaging. Still, WhatsApp absolutely dominates in markets outside of the U.S. like Europe and India. It’s also impossible for Facebook to acquire certain other Asian competitors like WeChat, which is the one hope of Chinese mega-giant Tencent to have a global consumer product.
So it’s clear that WhatsApp had strategic interest to Facebook, and we know that the two talked from time to time.