Now that people are starting to digest the news that Facebook bought Whatsapp for 19 billion dollars, it’s time for reflection. I believe that Whatsapp is one of the best acquisitions Facebook ever made—indeed, one of the best any tech giant could have made. Ready for some controversial claims?
Whatsapp has the best engineering team in the world. They built their product with a rather unknown language (but it was the most adequate), Erlang:
“With Erlang you could build a messaging app with many connected users and not worry about how they communicate,” says Chad DePue, CTO of Whisper, an app for anonymous posts that has opted to use the language. Instead, he says, “You can worry about creating a great app.”
Not convinced? They are about 30 engineers and maintain a service used by more than 425 million people. Take a look at this Quora question: How strong is the engineering team at Whatsapp?
While Facebook was the king of the Web, Whatsapp is really close to being the king of mobile. It can be seen as the closest thing to a phone OS in itself (cross-platform & global service).
As per MG Siegler:
Both understand that the Facebook/WhatsApp deal is simply the strongest signal yet that we’ve fully entered a new age in the world of computing where mobile is now the kingdom. And the $19 billion price tag simply shows that there isn’t yet a king.
Facebook was a king in the last kingdom, the Web. And while they seem to be transitioning fairly well over to this new kingdom (after stumbling badly out of the gate), the $19 billion figure shows that they’re well aware that not only are they not anointed yet, they’re just as likely to be overthrown.
This kingdom is truly different. Many of the dynamics that led to Facebook’s rise as social engulfed the Web are no longer at play. This is why Facebook is transitioning from a hub of features behind a great wall to an unbundled island of apps. But this has to be terrifying for them because the glue that once held things together so tightly, the social graph, is starting to wear off. With no more wall and no more glue…
Whatsapp probably has the biggest number of daily active users in the world. Bigger than Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. 72% of their users return daily.
How much would you pay for the best engineering team in the world and the most actively used mobile service in the world? Zuckerberg wants to be sure that Facebook will still exist in 10 years, buying Whatsapp and adding its CEO to the Facebook board is a smart move.
In less than two years, Whatsapp will have at least 1 billion users, let’s wait and see.