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Facebook's at it again. Today the social media giant acquired the popular messaging app WhatsApp for a whopping $16 billion, according to the SEC filing that popped up earlier today. Broken down, that's $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook stock, a possible $3 billion in restricted stock. (That would actually bring the total up to $19 billion. Yeesh.)
WhatsApp is popular because it allows users to chat and share files with both groups and individuals, which makes it kind of an augmented version of Apple's own iMessage app. Popular is kind of an understatement. As recently as last November, the app boasted 400 million active users and a full 100 million of those appeared in the last quarter of 2013. As MacRumors notes, Google was rumored to want to buy the company for $1 billion (a claim that was later denied).
According to CEO and co-founder Jan Koum, loyal users need not worry about changes. In Koum's words, "Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing. WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee. You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you’re using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication."
Right now, WhatsApp provides its services free without ads, much as Instagram did before its acquisition by Zuckerberg and friends. With ads thought to be on the way for the popular photo sharing service, it'll be interesting to see if Facebook plans to apply the same model to WhatsApp as well.
Follow this article's writer, Leif Johnson, on Twitter.