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How Jan Koum Steered WhatsApp Into $16B Facebook Deal 136

Posted by timothy
from the ok-today-I-can-supersize-it dept.
First time accepted submitter paulbes writes "Jan Koum picked a meaningful spot to sign the $19 billion deal to sell his company WhatsApp to Facebook [Wednesday]. Koum, cofounder Brian Acton and venture capitalist Jim Goetz of Sequoia drove a few blocks from WhatsApp's discreet headquarters in Mountain View to a disused white building across the railroad tracks, the former North County Social Services office where Koum, 37, once stood in line to collect food stamps. That's where the three of them inked the agreement to sell their messaging phenom –which brought in a minuscule $20 million in revenue last year — to the world's largest social network." Forbes overstates the apparent selling price by a few billion dollars; big numbers, either way. [Update: 02/20 13:51 GMT by T : The $19 billion makes sense, if you include retention bonuses in the form of restricted stock units.] Another reader points out the interesting fact that "Acton — himself a former Apple engineer — applied for jobs at both Twitter and Facebook way before WhatsApp became a wildly popular mobile app. Both times he was rejected."
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How Jan Koum Steered WhatsApp Into $16B Facebook Deal

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  • by OzPeter (195038) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @09:49AM (#46294087)

    Take that SnapChat!

  • I hear that (Score:5, Funny)

    by Chrisq (894406) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @09:53AM (#46294109)
    I hear that facebook also offered $19 for slashdot beta.
  • Rags to riches... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TWX (665546) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:01AM (#46294169)
    ...does happen, that isn't in of itself actually a surprise, especially when one considers that Mr. Acton had an education and a career that requires either an education or above-average ability (for the sum of humans total).

    The thing that I find disappointing is how the nature of overvaluation in emerging software markets (ie, any software or service that isn't showing a profit) is reaching unsupportable levels. What I want to know is, have the users of these sites started truly fundamentally changing how they behave in terms of being led down certain directions as a result of their use of software-based services like Facebook, and if so will this reflect their purchasing habits? If the answer to the second part is no, then this is just a huge bubble as there is no real inherent value in social media from an advertiser's point of view. Given that advertising is the primary means of driving revenue these days, that spells disaster.

    There was a documentary on PBS the other night about the nature of social media. It first started with the co-opting of youth culture, repackaging it, and reselling it back in the form of MTV in the early noughties, and contrasted to today, where people strive for "Likes" and "subscribers". Some individuals have made personal money successfully, but it doesn't seem to translate well into the corporate profit engine well. Persons and small businesses are unlikely to afford to buy advertising through social media, so I don't see how Facebook et al are going to profit substantially from this bottom-up form of media.

    And I expect the bubble to burst. Both for individual companies (Facebook replaced MySpace, something will replace Facebook) and for the industry as a whole.
    • by alen (225700) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:26AM (#46294315)

      small businesses are the ones who should be buying ads through social media
      regional TV is still too expensive for a small business like a restaurant or a club
      you buy followers on twitter and facebook and update the streams for your fans

      • by TWX (665546) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:55AM (#46294539)
        On the other hand, buying TV or radio time in one's market is a guaranteed way of knowing that the money that you've spent is paying for something that's being properly implemented, as in locally. It's intuitive that a local affiliate station will only broadcast the ad in its geographic area. It's also fairly easy to confirm that one's ad is being played if one buys time during a given timeslot as one can simply listen to the radio or watch TV to confirm.

        Buying online advertising is less intuitive. The ad agency may say that the ad is being sent to this or that geographic area, but there's no obvious way for the customer-business to confirm independently. They're stuck relying on the self-reporting of the ad agency. They're also faced with adblocking software that might retrieve the ad but not display it, skewing the results.

        As the Frontline documentary said, it's much easier to confirm the success by bringing someone already-successful in to co-opt a bit of their success, to ride on the coat tails as it were. If you watch Jenna Marbles because you want to be like her or want ladies like her, if she mentions a club or venue or bar that she's hanging out at, you're likely to take notice of that. Some will add that organization to their subscriptions and may even patronize it because of it.

        The danger is that it starts switching from grass-roots to astroturfing. Look at the extreme press that the various big Comic Cons get, despite them not really being much about comics and really not having different atmospheres than older conventions and even SCA and renfaires have. It's a feeding-frenzy or a feedback loop, not because there's much to really offer, but because it's massively self-referential, and I have a feeling that it too, will pass. Too many seasons of ticket unavailability will start leaving people to look for other places, and eventually another thing will become hot, and they'll stop selling-out memberships as that new thing co-opts.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:26AM (#46294319)
      Of course not. At that level of money, it has nothing to do with education or technology, it's about people and knowing the right people and saying and doing the right things.
      • by TWX (665546) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:57AM (#46294559)

        At that level of money, it has nothing to do with education or technology, it's about people and knowing the right people and saying and doing the right things.

        Nope. One still has to have something to offer in order to command big money. There has to be some defining characteristic to set one apart. Otherwise there'd be a lot more rich sports players, a lot more rich musicians and rappers. Mr. Acton happened to have been in the right place and at the right time, and to also have had that special thing. Had he not had it to build what he built, no one would have given him a cent to buy-out the fruits of his labors.

    • by Bill Dimm (463823) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:49AM (#46294499) Homepage

      it doesn't seem to translate well into the corporate profit engine well

      Advertising dollars spent on Facebook may be detrimental [youtube.com] for companies buying "likes" through Facebook (even directly, not 3rd party). When advertisers figure that out, Facebook is done.

    • by JaredOfEuropa (526365) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:51AM (#46294511) Journal
      The added value of social media and search engines to advertisers is targeted advertising. Not because these ads result in big changes in purchasing habits of the viewers, but because they allow my product to be offered to people who are potentially interested in it, as opposed to whomever happens to be watching. That makes advertising affordable, especially for small businesses.

      I couldn't afford an ad on national TV let alone something on an international medium. I might be able to afford one on local TV but it's unlikely to be cost effective for a niche product like mine. However advertising through Google has proven to be well worth the (small) price. These are new advertising euros that would otherwise not have been spent.
    • by Reapy (688651) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:54AM (#46294535)

      I like the part where they paint the guy as a food stamp collecting dude, but later in the article he 'lived off the 400,000 he had saved'. That is definitely not a poor person who has 400k laying around in bank accounts, at all.

      • by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland.yahoo@com> on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:35AM (#46294849) Homepage Journal

        When he was a child he and his mother need food stamps. He later worked at Yahoo, and others, and didn't need food stamps then.

        I like the part where you need to not think and just cherry pick so you can deal with the fact you will never have money or accomplish anything.

        Every one should take a lesson there. Live frugal and you can save a lot of money. There will always be toys to spend money on, no need to live on the edge of your income.

    • by Tom (822) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:07AM (#46294633) Homepage Journal

      I wish for the bubble to burst, but I don't think it will.

      Here's a dark secret of the advertisement industry: Not only are we not the customers of Facebook, but its product, but just the purpose of the advertisement industry is not to sell the products of its customers - it is to sell its customers more advertisement.

      The main product of ad agencies are themselves - telling everyone that they need to advertise, and advertise more, and have you seen your competitors? you have to beat them...

      So I expect the bubble to continue, because a billion-dollar industry has an interest in it. Not because the companies buying ad space on Facebook really make a profit doing so, but because the ad agencies selling ad space on Facebook do.

    • by gnick (1211984) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:17AM (#46294707) Homepage

      ...have the users of these sites started truly fundamentally changing how they behave in terms of being led down certain directions as a result of their use of software-based services like Facebook, and if so will this reflect their purchasing habits?

      Yes. Even if 5% of FB users have used Candy Crush, and only 10% of those drop $.99 twice a month on "lollipop hammers" or some such, that's still $150M+/year - On an imaginary product with infinite free supply. And if targeted advertising was ineffective, then a lot of very successful companies & governments have wasted a lot of money on it spanning decades.

      Decades of repeated success strongly suggests that these companies have found an effective market strategy. That said, I do believe that FB is a wildly over-inflated bubble. WhatsApp even more so.

  • by jenningsthecat (1525947) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:04AM (#46294203)

    ...that the money for this transaction ultimately comes from all of us. We bought the products and services of the companies whose marketing and advertising rely on Facebook. And those of us who have FB accounts, (along with those of us who don't do our best to stop FB tracking us all over the Web), have made Facebook at least look like it's worth the money those companies hand over to it. That's how Facebook can pay almost a thousand years' of WhatApp's current revenue for the fledgling company.

    • by Gunboat_Diplomat (3390511) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:13AM (#46294255)

      ...that the money for this transaction ultimately comes from all of us. We bought the products and services of the companies whose marketing and advertising rely on Facebook. And those of us who have FB accounts, (along with those of us who don't do our best to stop FB tracking us all over the Web), have made Facebook at least look like it's worth the money those companies hand over to it. That's how Facebook can pay almost a thousand years' of WhatApp's current revenue for the fledgling company.

      A large part of what Facebook is paying for is to not have their position threatened. A large part of what built Facebook was photo sharing, can't risk anyone steal that position from them, which is why they also bought Instagram. Seeing it as a $19B investment to safeguard their $170B valuation makes more sense than trying to find the value in current SnapChat business.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:42AM (#46294435)

      So?
       
      Oh, that's right, it'z teh ebil Fazebooooks!!!!111!!!!!
       
      Why didn't you caw on this same thing in yesterday's Google fiber story? After all, Google makes Facebook look totally amateur in comparison. Or how about any Android stories for exactly the same reason?
       
      Face it, you pick and choose who's worth keeping an eye on not based on your own metric but based on your own bias. If you were honest and fair about it you'd realize that most of the money flowing through the web is gotten by the same method that you point out Facebook for using.
       
      Oh, and Slashdot is also using this model to a point... just something worthwhile keeping in mind, eh?

    • by ledow (319597) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:47AM (#46294473) Homepage

      Sorry, but I've given Facebook precisely zip.

      My having an account is not going to turn into a guilt-trip to make me think I'm funding idiocy like this. Facebook isn't worth what its share prices say its worth, any more than WhatsApp is worth anything even APPROACHING a billion, let alone 19 of them. But it's not my fault.

      If someone is stupid enough to give Facebook / Whatsapp this kind of money, it's certainly not someone like me. If they are paying that to try to reach me, more fool them. If you don't notice, you'd be BETTER OFF giving everyone on Facebook, say, £100 and asking them to spend it on your mate's products. It's literally that bad.

      And trying to get even just my share of, say, $19bn out of my Facebook account will almost certainly end up in me terminating it. Try putting more than a few ads on the Facebook page and I'm off. As it is the "sponsored" updates are annoying me. You'll be lucky if Facebook's "income" from any one person is even pence, in terms of clicked ads etc., before you even count out costs they've incurred to Facebook.

      And I can state with quite a high degree of certainty that all of the companies that have given Facebook money - none of that has come from me. I've never clicked on an ad, let alone the bollocks Facebook ads that can't even be bothered to read my interests that I've taken the time to put on my Facebook account. If they've paid to spam me, I haven't even noticed and if I do notice, I'm off. It's that simple.

      But, actually, nobody has made me spend money with them by tapping into the information I provide Facebook at all. In fact, just the opposite. Spamming me for US-based VPS servers just because I have IT-related interest doesn't help a Brit like me at all - but Facebook gets so little other information from me (blocked referrers, et.c) that they have no way to monetise me anyway. They aren't driving me to Amazon to buy products or anything else. I have my family, some photos, a few companies that *I'VE* worked for, and that's about it. I'm infinitely more likely to complain about a company than praise them, so they aren't even getting "social" referrals.

      If people are stupid enough to value WhatsApp / Facebook at those amounts, that's their problem - but there is no path, direct or indirect, from the money I spend on Facebook (zero) or WhatsApp (a single £0.69 / annum transaction to buy the app and I haven't even done that, my girlfriend has, to talk with her mates back home) or their affiliates and adverts (zero) to justify any such valuation whatsoever.

      Sorry, but you need 27 billion "user-years" of subscriptions to make WhatsApp worth what this says it is. That's everyone on the entire planet buying it religiously for the next three years, and also assuming there is zero cost to provide such service levels at all. It's utter nonsense, and several orders of magnitude out - there are 320m daily active users of WhatsApp. Most of those are probably on the year's free subscription.

      Let's call it even 500m people buying the app this year and it's STILL orders of magnitude out. And not even close to what will happen in 5-10 years. And not when Facebook attempt to "monetise" it further.

      Sorry, but Facebook makes ZERO from me. If idiots want to pay them money in order to try to get ME to spend money, then well done Facebook. They have truly found a perfect business. But nobody's done that really, and certainly won't get their money's worth even if they did, and that's why Facebook isn't worth what these people claim it to be worth.

      Ten-fifteen years ago there was a site called FriendsReunited in the UK. It's a "find your old classmates" kind of site. At its height it was valued and sold for prices in the hundreds of millions (at one point to ITV, a huge broadcaster). It was bigger than Facebook and the only go-to site for that kind of thing. Then it was sold for £5m just a few years later. Now it's virtually dead (because Facebook just walked in and su

      • IN 2103 Facebook has nearly 8 billion in revenue and about 2.5 billion in operation income..
        In one year it's profit went from 60 million to 580 million.

        I'm sorry, you were saying Facebook Doesn't make any money?

        IF you use faebook, then you are making facebook money.
        Not that it's right or wrong to use facebook.

        • by ledow (319597) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:01PM (#46295105) Homepage

          A couple of dollars, per quarter, per user. From advertisting. Sure, there are users giving money to Facebook directly but - NOT ME. And not most people, obviously.

          http://venturebeat.com/2013/10... [venturebeat.com]

          The money comes from advertisers. Do those advertisers make that money from users? Pretty much no. They might think that, but they aren't. We're not giving advertiser's money, lots more money than we are directly pumping into Facebook by buying in-game currency etc.

          Someone else is. Businesses are. Whether they get a return on that is, like Google ad revenue, extremely hard to determine but incredibly unlikely for the majority of them.

          And, like I say, if that's how they are using me to make money - I don't click on adverts, don't let ad referrals propagate back to sellers I was using anyway, and if they push too much (no way they are showing the average user enough adverts to justify a dollar from each of them per quarter) they will kill the business flat.

          In case you haven't noticed - most places that spend money on advertising just don't see it back in increased revenue at all. Groupon can show you that. And almost every Facebook ad I see is small-fry Google-ad territory, where I doubt they even had enough free money to advertise in the first place, not "Coke" or "Pepsi" or "Microsoft" doing it.

          *I'm* not paying for Facebook at all. Stupid advertisers that won't see their money back - ever - are. It doesn't mean that's not how Google are funded either. But the advertisers that have paid to get to me, and the things I do on Facebook, generate no money whatsoever - and certainly not once you count profit instead of revenue (income). Facebook is not free to run. And for sure I'm costing it more than a dollar per quarter.

      • by 3.5 stripes (578410) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:27PM (#46295345)

        They don't make money from you, they make money from selling your data to other companies... that's why user numbers are important!

  • Web Bubble 2.0 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:05AM (#46294209)

    Nineteen billion for a glorified instant messenger.

  • by musmax (1029830) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:08AM (#46294219)
    Success is always attributed to the extraordinary skill and foresight of the winner: http://psychology.about.com/od... [about.com]. Queue the endless blogs and Forbes' deep analysis heaping accolades on Jan and his demonstrable $16B greatness. Good on Jan for striking it lucky, spare a thought for the thousands, just as worthy, that the dice did not favor, nothing more nothing less.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:35AM (#46294387)

      Acton — himself a former Apple engineer — applied for jobs at both Twitter and Facebook ...

      He obviously one of those unqualifed American workers that's too stupid. That's why Twitter and Facebook need those H1-Bs.

    • by stenvar (2789879) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:45AM (#46294455)

      Success is always attributed to the extraordinary skill and foresight of the winner

      And that's a correct thing to do in business. With few exceptions, extraordinary skill and foresight are necessary to win big in business, but they are not sufficient; the kind of skills that matter, however, may not be what you personally value or recognize.

      Good on Jan for striking it lucky, spare a thought for the thousands, just as worthy, that the dice did not favor, nothing more nothing less.

      Getting $19 billion for the company involves a great deal of luck, but he is seeing only a fraction of it. But whatever he is getting, his skills pretty much assured him wealth if he made the right choices.

      Achieving a net worth of several million dollars does not require luck, and it usually doesn't even require extraordinary skills.

    • by D-Fly (7665) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @02:17PM (#46296617) Homepage Journal

      As you say, cue the fawning [forbes.com] Forbes ''analysis.'' [forbes.com]

      The fact that Jan was on food stamps just a couple of years ago and now is worth something like 10 billion dollars on paper should say...something to all of the right wing assholes who hate on the poor for being shiftless losers, and who try to destroy the tiny little safety nets this country has left for people on the edge of starvation or homelessness.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:09AM (#46294225)

    Perspective: Inside Cisco's eavesdropping apparatus

    April 21, 2003 4:00 AM PDT
    OLD ARTICLE but it still RINGS TRUE today!

    http://news.cnet.com/2010-1071... [cnet.com]

    By Declan McCullagh

    "Cisco Systems has created a more efficient and targeted way for police and intelligence agencies to eavesdrop on people whose Internet service provider uses their company's routers.

    The company recently published a proposal that describes how it plans to embed "lawful interception" capability into its products. Among the highlights: Eavesdropping "must be undetectable," and multiple police agencies conducting simultaneous wiretaps must not learn of one another. If an Internet provider uses encryption to preserve its customers' privacy and has access to the encryption keys, it must turn over the intercepted communications to police in a descrambled form.

    Cisco's decision to begin offering "lawful interception" capability as an option to its customers could turn out to be either good or bad news for privacy.

    Because Cisco's routers currently aren't designed to target an individual, it's easy for an Internet service provider (ISP) to comply with a police request today by turning over all the traffic that flows through a router or switch. Cisco's "lawful interception" capability thus might help limit the amount of data that gets scooped up in the process.

    On the other hand, the argument that it hinders privacy goes like this: By making wiretapping more efficient, Cisco will permit governments in other countries--where court oversight of police eavesdropping is even more limited than in the United States--snoop on far more communications than they could have otherwise.

    Marc Rotenberg, head of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, says: "I don't see why the technical community should hardwire surveillance standards and not also hardwire accountability standards like audit logs and public reporting. The laws that permit 'lawful interception' typically incorporate both components--the (interception) authority and the means of oversight--but the (Cisco) implementation seems to have only the surveillance component. That is no guarantee that the authority will be used in a 'lawful' manner."

    U.S. history provides many examples of government and police agencies conducting illegal wiretaps. The FBI unlawfully spied on Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King Jr., feminists, gay rights leaders and Catholic priests. During its dark days, the bureau used secret files and hidden microphones to blackmail the Kennedy brothers, sway the Supreme Court and influence presidential elections. Cisco's Internet draft may be titled "lawful interception," but there's no guarantee that the capability will always be used legally.

    Still, if you don't like Cisco's decision, remember that they're not the ones doing the snooping. Cisco is responding to its customers' requests, and if they don't, other hardware vendors will.

    Cisco's Internet draft may be titled "lawful interception," but there's no guarantee that the capability will always be used legally.

    If you're looking for someone to blame, consider Attorney General John Ashcroft, who asked for and received sweeping surveillance powers in the USA Patriot Act, along with your elected representatives in Congress, who gave those powers to him with virtually no debate.

    I talked with Fred Baker, a Cisco fellow and former chairman of the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), about his work on the "lawful interception" draft.

    Q: Why did Cisco decide to build "lawful interception" into its products? What prompted this?

  • by rjstanford (69735) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:13AM (#46294249) Homepage Journal

    Facebook is going mobile - as are many (most) other players. This is one of the few mobile messaging networks that has a reach big enough to pull users away from Facebook. $19B is a reasonableamount of money to spend on defense to make a network that - internationally - is bigger than Twitter disappear as a risk.

    Its not the revenue today, its the customer base (7% of the world population are regular users and its still growing rapidly). We're not used to international phenomenons like this, so of course the numbers look huge as absolutes. $38/customer is still a lot for a pure acquisition, so if they hadn't become large enough to be a credible threat they'd likely never have seen that much, but they did... and the rest is history.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:16AM (#46294265)

    They paid this amount for 450+ million users database from around the world their phone numbers, IMEI, MAC addresses, contact lists, ..... list goes on.

    • by RivenAleem (1590553) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:59AM (#46295085)

      What happens to people who used WhatsApp so they could IM on their phone, without FB getting their phone number? How do I as a user prevent FB from getting my phone number now? Is it too late to delete the app from my phone and request record of it deleted from their service?

      Does it matter because any of my friends have my phone number and are using WhatsApp and thus FB will get it from them if not from me?

      Has that ship sailed?

      • by D-Fly (7665) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @02:35PM (#46296863) Homepage Journal

        I deleted my Whatsapp account from my phone and my wife's as soon as this news broke for this precise reason. I don't want Facebook having my telephone number, IMEI, router information, etc.

        But you make the very good point that all of my 2 dozen or so Whatsapp contacts that have my phone number will be giving it to Facebook anyway. As we are all well aware, Facebook's backend is VERY good at identifying who you are through its analysis of social networks [viz. the 'People You May Know' feature], so they will likely be able to fill in phone numbers for basically all of their users using Whatsapp's database, even if those users do not actually have a Whatsapp account.

        When I lived in Egypt some years ago, before the fall of Mubarak, I used to hang out with quite a few anti-regime activist types. They would organize pathetic little demonstrations, frequently via Facebook. And every once in a while, if they were organizing something that the regime really didn't want them to do (demonstrating at the Interior Ministry or something), the government would come in and efficiently round up everyone who had checked in or whatever via Facebook, before the demo got started. It was pretty clear that they had penetrated the online social networks pretty thoroughly, either with or without help from Menlo Park. I've had a very healthy skepticism of Facebook [theonion.com] ever since.

        It's funny how when we were kids (and for generations before), the bugbear was the all-encompassing government surveillance state. And it has arrived, but it crept in through the ethernet port, with our own little voluntary checkmarks next to the User Agreement. And it came through private companies like Facebook and Google.

        The ship has sailed.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:23AM (#46294299)

    This tend of mobile only apps really needs to stop. Getting so annoyed that none of these popular apps have web versions. Seriously, just make a web version, or use jabber or something that I can connect to with my computer.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:27AM (#46294339)

    The way is shut.

    It was made by those who are Dead,
    and the Dead keep it, until the time comes.

    The way is shut.

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:37AM (#46294399)

    I don't get it. Even my shitty low-end cellular plan has unlimited texting, and WhatsApp doesn't seem to be doing much else. I can't even take the WhatsApp account with me when I change phone numbers. And WhatsApp is a big, bloated application.

    Why do people actually use WhatsApp?

    • by kaiser423 (828989) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:48AM (#46294483)
      Free international texting. In some areas of the globe it's use is near universal, from grandmas to the little kids. In the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, a WhatsApp account is literally on over 75% of smart phones.
      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:56AM (#46295059) Homepage Journal

        Free international texting. In some areas of the globe it's use is near universal, from grandmas to the little kids. In the Middle East and parts of Africa and Asia, a WhatsApp account is literally on over 75% of smart phones.

        Interesting, I'd never heard of the app till this story broke about the large $$$ sale.

        So, is this more of a non-US popular app, or is it popular in parts of the US too?

    • by Pope (17780) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:56AM (#46294551)

      Not everyone has your texting plan. WhatsApp does group chats very well. That's enough for people to find it useful.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:00AM (#46294583)

      Sending international text messages.
      This may be hard to understand for people who never leave their little town.

    • by rgbscan (321794) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:02AM (#46294603) Homepage

      Its just an instant messenger. Not everyone has unlimited, or international texting. Using the data plan often makes more sense.

    • by baka_toroi (1194359) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:08AM (#46294643) Journal
      You don't get unlimited texting in every country.
    • by Ecuador (740021) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @02:32PM (#46296819) Homepage
      I have unlimited texting in the UK, but most of my friends are in various countries. I don't like IMs, but when a friend suggested that there is an IM that requires no signup and shows you directly which of your phone contacts are on, I tried it out. So, it works well and you can post pictures and sound into the conversation, hence much better than SMS.
    • by Control-Z (321144) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @02:42PM (#46296961)

      I use it to keep in touch with a group of gaming friends, you send one message and everyone in the group gets it. Sort of like a forum, but you can create groups any time you like, invite anyone you like to them, and there is no moderation.

    • by mgcarley (735176) on Friday February 21, 2014 @02:09PM (#46305005) Homepage Journal

      I always thought of it like a BBM replacement (which is why I don't get the reason for BBM on Android/iOS) but also

      1. Lots of countries don't have unlimited texting
      2. Free international texting
      3. Texts longer than 160 characters
      4. Group texting (we use it to send status updates to subscribers when we have network outages)
      5. Easy export of message history
      6. Confirmed receipt & reading of messages ...and probably something else.

      As far as taking the account with you when you change phone numbers... I'd call that a feature, not a bug. Presumably if I was changing my phone number, I'd be doing it for a reason, although it would be nice to have the option to register properly and have it tied to a username/password if I wanted to.

      • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday February 21, 2014 @03:25PM (#46305443)

        I always thought of it like a BBM replacement (which is why I don't get the reason for BBM on Android/iOS) but also

        Of course, Skype, Hangouts, and lots of other apps satisfy all those requirements.

        As far as taking the account with you when you change phone numbers...

        Gosh, yeah, like when you move to a different country or switch to another carrier and can't take your number with you.

        • by mgcarley (735176) on Friday February 21, 2014 @04:52PM (#46306145) Homepage Journal

          I always thought of it like a BBM replacement (which is why I don't get the reason for BBM on Android/iOS) but also

          Of course, Skype, Hangouts, and lots of other apps satisfy all those requirements.

          As far as taking the account with you when you change phone numbers...

          Gosh, yeah, like when you move to a different country or switch to another carrier and can't take your number with you.

          As someone who moves countries on a fairly regular basis (7-ish times in 10-ish years), I understand that argument better than most, however, for the majority of people that would be a non issue, hence my expression of desiring the option for a username/password to link the account(s) together and/or keep the history etc.

          As for simply moving carrier, number portability is available in many countries - not knowing which country you're from, however, I can't say for certain if it's an option for you.

          As for Skype/Hangouts/etc that's all good and well for those with smartphones, but in a country like India for example, most people don't have smartphones yet whatsapp can still run on some fairly basic hardware and fairly reliably on 2G whereas those options require 3G**

          (**by "requires", I mean, in order for it to work //well// - Skype does work on a 2G network, but it is worse than awful, and hangouts is slow as soggy shit on low-end Androids -- not everyone has an S4, you know).

          • by stenvar (2789879) on Saturday February 22, 2014 @06:47AM (#46310107)

            As for simply moving carrier, number portability is available in many countries - not knowing which country you're from, however, I can't say for certain if it's an option for you.

            Well, it certainly isn't an option when I want to use messaging from a tablet that happens not to have cellular. Whatever, there really is no advantage to not being able to run the messenger app on a tablet or wifi only device or new carrier or whatever.

            As for Skype/Hangouts/etc that's all good and well for those with smartphones, but in a country like India for example, most people don't have smartphones yet whatsapp can still run on some fairly basic hardware and fairly reliably on 2G whereas those options require 3G**

            I use Skype and Hangouts text messaging regularly on an S2 with 2G, no problems. And WhatsApp is pretty bloated itself.

  • by MellowBob (2933537) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:56AM (#46294543)

    In residential rental real estate, the rule of thumb is monthly revenue of 1% of the property or annually, 1 eighth of the property's value. The biggest companies like Exxon, Walmart, and Apple have a revenue to value ratio close to 1:1. Their last year's revenue is one thousandths of the purchase price.

    Hey, Facebook, give me a million bucks and I'll give you 1,000 each year. Heck, I'll double it, $2,000 next year.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:59AM (#46294575)

    Time to purge Whatsapp and all its data from your smartphone. Before Zuck sucks it all up and starts making money by pestering me.

    Cause don't you buy into all that "the company will continue operating independently and with its current business model" crap. As soon as Zuck's minions get their paws on the user database. it will be monetized and you will start getting bombarded by all sorts of ads at wee hours of the day. Sent by some Kolkatta slum dweller who's being paid $0.02 per call to do so all day long.

  • by Tom (822) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:00AM (#46294589) Homepage Journal

    I can't hear the "he started out poor" line anymore.

    Yes, one in a million poor people make it. So what?

  • by SpankiMonki (3493987) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:02AM (#46294599)
    ...then told the begger on the sidwalk to "get a job" as he left.
  • by FilmedInNoir (1392323) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @11:25AM (#46294769)
    > Another reader points out the interesting fact that "Acton — himself a former Apple engineer — applied for jobs at both Twitter and Facebook way before WhatsApp > became a wildly popular mobile app. Both times he was rejected." Maybe because Acton is 42.
  • by bayankaran (446245) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @12:28PM (#46295359) Homepage
    I use Whatsapp. Its useful - especially when you don't have to block ads.
    Facebook gets an address book and can mine whatever the user types into Whatsapp to generate sophisticated profiles of their users. At some stage your profile will be sharper than your friends/relatives know about you, even you about yourself. This can be used for showing ads.
    Here is the issue...where will you show ads?
    Mobile has a serious real estate issue. A decent text ad - like the GMAIL ads - will not work as you cannot cram many characters into a small space. What will work is annoying flashy ads, which irritate everyone.
    Showing ads on websites...we are at a saturation point. And Facebook will have to compete with Google - the biggest ad agency in this planet.
    Whatsapp and Tumblr were seriously overpriced. I hope the founders will use some of the proceeds for altruistic causes, that's what the world needs...not more ads.
  • by DarthVain (724186) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @03:04PM (#46297225)

    http://www.whatsapp.com/ [whatsapp.com]

    "Why we don't sell ads: Brian and I spent a combined 20 years at Yahoo! working hard to keep the site working. And yes, working hard to sell ads, because that's what Yahoo! did. It gathered data and it served pages and it sold ads. We watched Yahoo! get eclipsed in size by Google..."

    Here is what just happened. Using a free app with no ads, some people collected the phone numbers and address books of 450 million suckers. Then for 4 Billion plus some stock, they sold all that information to Facebook, who will in turn re-sell that information selectively based on your Facebook habits directly to advertisers at a premium rate. There is also a messenger app and a bit of tech to enhance the already existing Facebook messenger a bit.

    Part of me thinks the price was so high with stock simply to create a big buzz and get even more suckers to sign up, allowing them to reap more consumer information, etc...

    Have fun getting robocalls for the rest of your existence until you change your phone number.

  • by AAhrerh (3545935) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @08:52PM (#46300713)
    If you think data mining of billions+millions of user accounts is staggering, be aware that NSA already has most of the data that Facebook+Whatsapp has.

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