Facebook, the social networking giant announced after the close of the market on Wednesday that it has acquired mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion.
The deal bolsters the world’s biggest social network by adding the 450 million users of WhatsApp, which will be operated independently with its own board.
It is Facebook’s biggest acquisition and comes less than two years after Mark Zuckerberg’s firm raised $16 billion in the richest tech sector public stock offering.
The purchase includes $12 billion in Facebook shares and $4 billion cash. It calls for an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units to be granted to WhatsApp founders and employees that will vest over four years.
Facebook reportedly sought to acquire another hot messaging firm, Snapchat, for $3 billion last year.
“WhatsApp is on a path to connect one billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” said Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and chief executive.
“I’ve known (WhatsApp founder) Jan (Koum) for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”
WhatsApp is a cross-platform mobile app which allows users to exchange messages without having to pay telecom charges.
“Almost five years ago we started WhatsApp with a simple mission: building a cool product used globally by everybody. Nothing else mattered to us,” Koum said in a blog post.
“Today we are announcing a partnership with Facebook that will allow us to continue on that simple mission.