Facebook Inc. (Nasdaq: FB), the world’s largest social network, agreed to acquire mobile-messaging application startup WhatsApp Inc. for $16 billion in cash and stock.
The deal also includes $3 billion more in restricted stock for WhatsApp’s founders and staff that will vest over four years, Menlo Park, California-based Facebook said today in a statement. More than 450 million people use WhatsApp, with 1 million new registered users being added daily, Facebook said.
WhatsApp competes with Snapchat Inc., which rebuffed a $3 billion offer from Facebook last year, as well as services from Twitter Inc. and Kik Interactive Inc. WhatsApp’s users can send messages through the service over the Web for free, as opposed to traditional text messages, which consumers pay for through their mobile-phone plans.
“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people,” Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg said in the statement. “The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable.”