Published On: Thu, Feb 20th, 2014

Facebook acquires Whatsapp in $19 Billion USD Deal

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Wednesday February 19, 2014 will be remembered as the historical day on which the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company announced a record $19 billion for messaging service WhatsApp, instantly taking its cofounders Jan Koum and Brian Acton into the realm of 10-figure fortunes. FORBES estimates that Koum held about a 45% stake in the company, while Acton’s stake was over 20%.

In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Facebook said it would be paying for the deal with nearly 184 million shares, $4 billion in cash and nearly 46 million restricted stock units (RSUs), valuing the acquisition at over $19 billion. After disregarding the RSUs, which are not immediately exercisable, and assessing taxes, FORBES estimates that Koum is worth $6.8 billion while Acton is worth at least $3 billion as of Facebook’s closing share price on Wednesday.

Messages left with WhatsApp were not immediately returned on Wednesday.

Facebook has already minted several billionaires, among them Mark Zuckerberg, whose estimated net worth is about $30 billion. Other members of the 10-figure fortune club from the social network’s ranks include cofounders Dustin Moskovitz andEduardo Saverin; venture capitalists Peter Thiel andJim Breyer; former president Sean Parker; and most recently Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who became a billionaire last month because of Facebook’s rising share prices.

WhatsApp's Brian Acton and Jan Koum are billionaires thanks to a $19 billion deal with Facebook. (Photo: Robert Gallagher for Forbes)

WhatsApp’s Brian Acton and Jan Koum are billionaires thanks to a $19 billion deal with Facebook.     (Photo: Robert Gallagher for Forbes)

Aside from Facebook’s chief, WhatsApp CEO Koum will be richer than all of them. At 37, he will join Facebook’s board once the deal closes and will continue to operate the Mountain View, Calif.-based messaging company independently of its parent.

I’ve also known Jan for a long time, and I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page. “I’m particularly happy that Jan has agreed to join the Facebook board and partner with me to shape Facebook’s future as well as WhatsApp’s.”

Koum and Acton are not the first “messaging billionaires,” either. In December, Lee Hae-jin, the founder and head of Korea internet portal operator Naver Corp., joined the billionaire ranks thanks to a share price boost provided by the explosive growth in Line, the company’s free messaging service. Lee maintains a net worth of about $1.1 billion, largely due to the success of his company’s WhatsApp competitor, which counts Japan, Thailand and Taiwan as its largest markets.


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