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Facebook Buys WhatsApp For $19 Billion


What if Facebook spent $19 billion on something and most people never noticed?

The social media giant dropped that mind-boggling amount Wednesday on WhatsApp, paying 19 times more than it did for Instagram (or the gross national product of some small countries, if you prefer) for a texting app that most folks in the United States had never even heard of.

“WhatsApp will continue to operate independently within Facebook,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote Wednesday. “The product roadmap will remain unchanged and the team is going to stay in Mountain View,” the suburban California city where it’s based.

So what’s the deal? Well, first, Facebook has demonstrated a willingness to scoop up successful mobile apps (a space where it’s weak compared to rivals Google and Apple, with their own operating systems and stores) then largely leave them alone.

WhatsApp has 450 million active users worldwide and is reportedly adding millions more each month on a path Zuckerberg and others believe will soon have it hitting the 1 billion mark.

And that’s probably where Facebook is really looking. While it may be lightly regarded in the United States, where unlimited texting plans are the norm, WhatsApp has taken off in emerging markets like India, where traditional text-messaging can get expensive.

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