What's Up at Google Today? How About $1B for WhatsApp?

By Tony Rizzo April 08, 2013

The very first thing that came to our minds last week when Facebook announced Facebook Home for Android wasn't so much about what it means for Facebook, but rather what it means – or might mean – for Google. We're on the hunt for the answers to this question (stay tuned) but today brings us what is still a rumor that would be highly relevant to our Google thinking here – that Google is looking to acquire WhatsApp, which currently happens to be the most talked about "text messaging as social network" application now available, and one that is demonstrating enormous and explosive growth.

The rumor comes from Digital Trends, which claims it has an inside source at Google. WhatsApp reportedly spurned a Facebook buyout offer at the end of 2012, and at that time a deal was reportedly being offered by Facebook in the $1 billion range – similar to but a bit richer that what Facebook paid out for its Instagram purchase.

Whether that deal was turned down by WhatsApp, or was simply noise, we don't know for certain, but we will put significant credence into today's rumor simply because we believe there are huge synergies for both Google and WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is among a handful of "free" or nearly free text-based messaging apps that have sprung up on a global basis (it's the most downloaded Apple Store app globally and has had over a 100 million downloads on Google Play) that have also evolved – because of their clean simplicity – into significant social networks of their own. As their growth trajectories continue, they could – at least in theory – pose significant threats specifically to Facebook.

Some among us might also say that it poses a threat to Google+, but we aren’t in that camp. We think any real growth globally will come directly at the expense of Facebook – and that is something that one can appreciate Google truly loving.

The Digital Trends article suggests the talks are real and that WhatsApp is "playing hardball" on a final acquisition number. Considering the Facebook Home announcement, which delivers a key messaging feature Facebook has dubbed Chat Heads, both Google and WhatsApp now have a huge incentive to get a deal done. Google can put WhatsApp to real and significant use, and for WhatsApp, Google will open many, many new doors.

Our opinion is to look for the deal to happen.

Digital Trends does provide a few more of its own additional insights.

Edited by Braden Becker

TechZone360 Senior Editor

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