Why do some rabbis want the service banned?
Facebook has just gone and blown a brain-melting $19bn (£11.4bn) on private instant messaging service WhatsApp.
The same amount of money would have been enough to cover Lloyds Bank’s £10bn PPI bill, could comfortably buy Chelsea Football Club at £10bn, or could have bought the government a fleet of Trident nuclear submarines at around £11bn.
For a company that’s less than five years old it’s a mighty outlay. The move has made instant billionaires out of WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum.
Here are a few things you may not have known about WhatsApp.
1. By January 2014, WhatsApp users sent an almighty 50 billion messages through the app daily.
2. In April 2013, rumours surfaced that Google was interested in purchasing the messaging software, but that WhatsApp were “playing hardball”. The price on the table? A paltry $1bn.
3. WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and (current CEO) Jan Koum worked together for 20 years at Yahoo! before leaving to found WhatsApp.
4. The service is highly popular with ultra-orthodox Jews with large families, as the private network keeps people in touch at very low cost ($0.99 a year). But rabbis want it banned. According to The Forward, a Jewish newspaper, one member of the Hasidic community who lives in Williamsburg, said: “It’s not something they can control. Anything they can’t be in control of makes them nervous.”
5. WhatsApp says it has more than 450 million monthly active users worldwide and over 320 million daily active users. By comparison, at the end of 2013, Facebook had 1.23 billion monthly active users. WhatsApp has been making inroads fast.
6. The sale means that Facebook has effectively valued each WhatsApp user at around $42.
7. Founder Brian Acton was turned down for jobs at both Twitter and Facebook. “Got denied by Twitter HQ,” he tweeted in 2009. “That’s OK. Would have been a long commute”.
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 3, 2009
8. WhatsApp took their name from a highly clever pun on the words “App”, short of application, and the colloquial question “What’s up?” as popularised by Bugs Bunny since the 1940s. It is not a question about what an app is.