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What’s the WhatsApp?


Before this week, had you heard of WhatsApp? It’s okay; you’re not the only one. WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile messaging app. It offers real-time communication with all of your contacts and, similar to Google Hangouts, offers a group chat feature. Remember Blackberry Messenger back in the day? (Yes, 2007 is now “the day”.) It’s pretty similar to that except it is not exclusive to one carrier or phone brand. This means that finally iPhones, Androids, and Windows phones can all play nicely together and enjoy SMS-, ad-, and fee-free messaging. How? By using your phone’s data. WhatsApp users might want to keep a close eye on their data usage since sending images, video and audio are all unlimited with WhatsApp. What’s more, WhatsApp is free for the first year and .99 cents per year thereafter. All told, it’s quite a bargain!

So why the big Facebook acquisition? The social media giant’s previous attempt to snap up Snapchat was unsuccessful, and they have since been on the lookout for the next big thing in personal messaging. WhatsApp seems to be the the ideal missing piece to Mark Zuckerberg’s social puzzle, given its large and widespread user base. The app has around 450 million users worldwide, most of whom are outside the US. Its popularity abroad is largely due to restrictive texting plans that charge huge fees for sending messages across national lines. Could you imagine paying an extra .75 cents a message just to text your friend a state away? That would definitely add up! As we approach 5 billion smartphone users worldwide, WhatsApp is sure to become ubiquitous with global communication.

If you’re like us, you may be getting sticker shock over the valuation of the company, with WhatsApp getting a cool $16 billion, $12 billion of which is in Facebook shares. WhatsApp’s co-founder and CEO will now sit on Facebook’s Board of Directors but each product will still operate independently of the other. WhatsApp’s leadership has stated it is important for them to continue to run as a start-up as they focus on growth.

“WhatsApp has done for messaging what Skype did for voice and video calls,” said Jim Goetz, an investor with WhatsApp backer Sequoia Capital, on the company blog.

With over 19 billion messages sent per day, WhatsApp has also doubled in size in the last year, which has been made possible by more than 1 million sign ups daily. Facebook believes its new partner will have acquired greater than 1 billion users in the next few years. Quite amazing for a start-up with 50 employees! With more engagement and a higher percent of people using it daily than Facebook (listen to webcast), this acquisition was simply a no-brainer for Mr. Zuckerberg and his deep pockets.

So are you curious enough to download the app? What have you got to lose?