The social networking site Facebook has announced that it will buy the mobile messaging company WhatsApp in a deal worth $19 billion (USD). The $19bn will be mainly in the form of stocks ($15bn) with a cash sum of $4 billion.
WhatsApp is a popular messaging service, running on iOS, Android and Windows Phone, which allows users to message each other for free (the service is free for a year but then runs a subscription based system for $0.99 USD per year). It has a user base of some 450 million people who use the service every month, with 1 million new users joining the service every day, and has been seen as a major competitor to the conventional SMS messaging system.
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder and CEO of Facebook, said in the press statement that "WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable".
As with its recent purchase of Instagram, Facebook have confirmed that WhatsApp will remain semi-independent and will be free to "set its own direction". The co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, is set to join Facebook's board of directors.