WhatApp founders reportedly turned down a Google takoever offer in favour of Facebook, despite being offered more money
WhatsApp reportedly turned down an eleventh hour offer from Google CEO Larry Page to buy the instant messaging firm, despite the fact that the search giant was offering more than the $19bn (£11.4bn) price that Facebook paid earlier this week.
According to The Information, Page met with WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum in a last ditch attempt to stop the company being acquired by the social network, but crucially he did not offer Koum a place on Google’s board, whereas Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had offered a place at his company.
Facebook’s offer of a board position, coupled with the massive price it paid for the messaging company, has been viewed by many industry watchers as a protectionist move by Facebook to ensure a likely growth avenue going forward, as it reaches saturation point in many markets. It had also reportedly offered to pay WhatsApp in return for it informing Google, if any other company made a takeover approach.
Google had been linked with a move for WhatsApp for some time and reportedly discussed a possible $1 billion (£653m) takeover deal last year. That deal apparently failed because WhatsApp was “playing hardball” to try to secure a higher price.
After that failure, Google’s Page had reportedly pleaded with WhatApp’s Koum to stay independent. “Stay independent as you’ve always planned. You’re a big threat to Facebook. And joining Facebook would have a major impact on “how things play out for years to come,” was reportedly Page’s message to WhatsApp, according to one of the people involved in the talks.
A Google source reportedly said that WhatsApp had misunderstood Page’s intentions, and that he was merely encouraging the instant messaging firm to maintain its independence.
It remains to be seen how easily WhatsApp will fit into the Facebook family. WhatApp’s Koum has gone on the record as saying he was proud of his firm’s anti-advertising policy as phones were personal to people, and that it would be wrong to intrude on people’s conversations.
This is in marked contrast to Facebook’s approach, which is seeking to ramp up its efforts to monetise its increasingly mobile user base. Zuckerberg has for the moment promised that WhatsApp will remain autonomous, but it would not be in the least bit surprising if adverts eventually appeared in the app in the future.
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