Facebook held a conference call on Wednesday evening to discuss the surprising news of its acquisition of popular messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and company shares.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg started off the call discussing how his company is moving towards being a more mobile focused company, and WhatsApp was the perfect compliment to its goals of connecting everyone on the planet. He went on to add that he projected WhatsApp to have 1 billion users within the next few years. Co-Founder and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum spoke to the success of the service and how it is currently enjoying growth of over 1 million users a day.
The details of the deal were explained a bit more clearly with the financials breaking down as $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares and another $3 billion in restricted shares that will vest in four years for the WhatsApp employees.
During the question and answer session of the call, Zuckerberg immediately tackled just how separate WhatsApp would be from Facebook. In his view WhatsApp will best be served to continue working on its own and following the roadmap it has already set out for itself. This naturally led to questions about when we would see advertising showing up on WhatsApp, but Zuckerberg said that he didn't see advertising as the best method to monetizing messaging, and Koum agreed. They didn't go into detail on what their plans were, but Koum said the strategy is long-term and not something we would see showing up any time soon. There was some discussion to the subscription side of things, and while there was no direct mention of lifting the 99 cent a year rate users currently enjoy, there seemed to be an almost palpable hint flowing underneath that the cost was being examined.
One of the biggest questions on a lot of users' minds is whether Facebook Messenger, being one of the social network's most popular services, could be setting itself up for potential cannibalization. "Facebook Messenger isn't about real-time communication. It's more along the lines that you send someone a message and expect a reply later in the day almost like e-mail," Zuckerberg said in regards to Messenger. "WhatsApp is more about real-time and we see those as two very different use cases," he went on to add.
In all, the call portrayed a lot of excitement between the two CEOs, and how they look forward to completing the deal. There was no exact date given as to when the deal will close beyond later this year, and Facebook does not anticipate any regulatory roadblocks to impede that.