Facebook Acquires Whatsapp: 4 Numbers & 4 Tweets that are Lessons for a Lifetime

Whatsapp CEO & Co-Founder Jan Koum
Whatsapp CEO & Co-Founder Jan Koum

Earlier today, Facebook acquired messaging service Whatsapp for $19 bn in cash and stock. Whatsapp gets $4 bn in cash, $12 bn in Facebook shares and $3 bn in restricted stock units.

$19 bn is a BIG number. And it is all over the news now.

What’s really interesting, is the story of perseverance and of singular focus at Whatsapp. Sequoia capital, the only investor in Whatsapp had a fantastic blogpost which talks about 4 numbers that explain why Facebook acquired Whatsapp. TLDR

450, 32, 1 and 0.


450. WhatsApp has more than 450 million active users, and reached that number faster than any other company in history.

32. With only 32 engineers, one WhatsApp developer supports 14 million active users, a ratio unheard of in the industry.

1. Jan keeps a note from Brian taped to his desk that reads “No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!” It serves as a daily reminder of their commitment to stay focused on building a pure messaging experience.

0. There may be no greater testament to the viral nature of WhatsApp than the fact that the company has accomplished all this without investing a penny in marketing.

Brian Acton and Jan Koum started Whatsapp in 2009, and has had a steady, quiet growth in the last 5 years. It was in the app store by May 2009.

Acton and Koum began developing Whatsapp after they had quit their jobs at Yahoo. Koum was rejected for a job at Facebook in 2009!*

Here are a few tweets that capture Whatsapp’s journey

Got denied by Twitter HQ. That’s ok. Would have been a long commute.— Brian Acton (@brianacton) May 23, 2009[via TC]

Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.—Brian Acton (@brianacton) August 03, 2009 [ via TC]

WhatsApp had every option in the world, so I’m thrilled that they chose to work with us.” Mark Zuckerberg February 2014.

WhatsApp’s growth curve. —Richard Ting, February 20, 2014

Whatsapp User Growth

Whatsapp will operate independently within Facebook. Koum will join Facebook board. WhatsApp is now valued at more than half of the $31.5 bn market value of Twitter.

*Made a correction here.

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