Rumor: Whatsapp may be acquired by Google for $1 billion

by: Ankit BanerjeeApril 8, 2013


There’s no denying the exponential growth and success of third-party messenger apps such as KakaoTalk, WeChat, Nimbuzz, Viber, and numerous others, with one of the most popular in the lot being Whatsapp Messenger. Attesting to the popularity of the messenger service, apart from the recent statistic that 18 billion messages were processed by the company on New Year’s eve,  is that Google once again has the company in its sights.

After recent acquisition rumors by both Facebook and Google last year, a Digital Trends report, suggests that Google and Whatsapp have been in talks over the past four or five weeks to discuss an acquisition. According to the report, Whatsapp is “playing hardball” and vying for a higher price, which is allegedly close to $1 billion.

This move by Google makes a lot of sense. Google definitely needs to change things up as far as mobile messaging is concerned. Google Talk, which was very popular only a little while back, hasn’t evolved much in the past few years, and has lost out to the growing number of third-party messengers. Recent reports have suggested that the company is now working on a unified chat service, called Babel, the expertise of Whatsapp developers in running a very popular cross platform messaging service could help do the integration seamlessly. This would also save Google the trouble of having to enter a highly-competitive space with a completely new product.

Another major reason would be Facebook’s move into the mobile messaging arena. With the improved Facebook Messenger allowing users to sign up with just a phone number (similar to Whatsapp), and also now allowing for voice calls for U.S. accounts, Google needs to step up its game if the company is hoping to catch up to the competition.

Of course, this acquisition is also a great move financially. While Whatsapp hasn’t revealed any revenue numbers, some reports estimate that the company pulls in about $100 million a year, while staying completely ad-free. iOS users pay $0.99 when downloading the app, with Android users required to pay a nominal $0.99 per year fee after one year of free service, which, more often than not, gets extended indefinitely. I’ve used Whatsapp for about a year and a half now, and still haven’t had to pay anything. The service also has tie-ups with mobile service providers globally, for specific data plans, which profits shared by both parties.

If you’re a part of the decided minority that doesn’t know what Whatsapp is, it’s a messenger service that allows you to message, send images, audio clips, and videos other users who use the app, regardless of what mobile platform they use – Whatsapp is available on Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry. For Android, you can find Whatsapp on the Google Play Store here.

Do you think this is a good move by Google? Do you think Whatsapp will be integrated into Google Babel, or continue to exist as an independent app? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

  • If Google is planning to have WhatsApp an exclusive service for Android, then I am not happy. One of the things that I like about WA is its vast platform support.

    • Nigel Wong

      i doubt that they would. that is never their strategy. heck the ios google maps is actually better than the android version!!

      • Alejandro Rodriguez Mann

        also, they know that the reason why Whatsapp is so popular is because the vast platform support they have. the main reason for this adquisition would be users… so i dont think they would be compromising that part.

      • Filip Justin

        Check Windows Phone again! :)

    • bytewise

      Google has always been about platform neutral services.

  • Leif Sikorski

    Why shoud they?

    1) WhatsApp is just one of two or three famous services in this business. If they want to reach many users they would also have to aquire KakaoTalk and some others

    2) Google has already the users. Most people have Google Accounts, way more than WhatsApp.

    3) The problem of Google was so far that most people, beside us geeks, didn’t used Google Talk and G+ Messenger because it was hidden and simply to many services to do the same. The only things they need to do is:
    – merge Gtalk, G+ Messenger and Hangouts into one app/interface
    – give people the ability to share rich media like pictures and voice
    – a great integration into Android, Chrome and also a very good client for iOS

    And then they will be successful. The biggest issues of KakaoTalk, and WhatsApp is that people can’t use it on their desktop computers where typing is so much easier. If someone makes it right many will switch – Google has the chance to do it. Buying WhatsApp – for what? They have everything they need, they just need to make the user experience much better.

    • yobbei

      whatsapp is by far the most popular

      • Don’t know the numbers, but I have been using Kakao for over a year and hadn’t heard of whatsapp until this article. Just did a quick look at Play and if reviews are an indicator then I would say you are right. 2.6 million. reviews of Whatsapp and 1.1 million of Kakao. Never the less, both are quite popular.

    • What in the world is KakaoTalk? I’m very experienced in the Android world and I’ve never heard of such an app, not even in global Android blogs…

      • jangeloracoma

        It’s a messaging app popular in Korea and Japan. What’s great with these apps — LINE, KakaoTalk — is that they work simultaneously on desktop and mobile. Yes, Gtalk does that, too. But one of the main selling points of KakaoTalk and LINE would be their “stickers” which are apparently popular in the far east. WhatsApp is a fairly straightforward messaging app, but it seems they also want to incorporate features like stickers, games, etc.

      • Frederick Pou

        Korean Chat App

    • barry

      dont forget ‘Offline Message’ feature.
      that’s the reason I ditch GTalk and switch to Kakao.

      I heard kakao is currently testing out its beta pc client.
      whatsapp is not free btw.

    • barry

      dont forget ‘Offline Message’ feature.
      that’s the reason I ditch GTalk and switch to Kakao.

      I heard kakao is currently testing out its beta pc client.
      whatsapp is not free btw.

    • Frederick Pou

      I think it’s just an interface issue they are having. But you are definitely right!

  • matt

    I use Google Voice as my main mobile number and use the Voice extension for Chrome as well. I’ve never used Google Talk, personally i have no reason to. What real improvements can Google bring to its services from this acquisition? Or is the primary goal here just to grab hold of a customer base that could eventually be bought out by another, larger competitor?

  • Bone

    $1B? Just wow. Why can’t I come up with an app like this? :(

  • Leon Ghitis

    Yes. Important acquisition.

  • hope it does not happen as service will become too controlled and will have ads etc. if it does happen it needs to have full benefit in Whatsapp’s favor

  • Alejandro Rodriguez Mann

    Very important adquisition. Im sure google voice and hang outs would be added and the whole world your be google :) also they will expanded it into the web, and it wont matter what device you are using!

  • doops

    Agreed.. Would be an excellent acquisition.. IMO ‘Babel’ needs to have accessibility of whatsapp (as in ease of sign up) to even have a chance of competing

  • mjolnirxz

    yes, but $1b is a tad too much…

  • aholsteinson

    I am not sold on this rumor yet. Every blog cites back to the Digital Trends article which itself didn’t give a proper source for its speculation.

  • This acquisition might be a game-changer… An amazing search engine now would have access to almost main-stream messaging app !!! What analytics can be built !! Eagerly looking forward to it :)

  • anupam kher

    Would this mean that Whatsapp will be a free app to use?

    • Enes Taşdemir

      This would probably mean that there will be lots of ads

  • Padraic Keogh

    Will we finally see whatsapp on tablet then?

    • Doubt it…unless the software gets real expensive..the phone companies have to get their cut somewhere…

  • Baiju M

    Another episode of Instagram, Sparrow and Mailbox?. Unlike facebook, who was interested in ever growing user base of Instagram; Google will be interested in the expertise initially and later this will no longer exist and probably migrate the user base to the so called new messaging platform from Google. Could go the way of Skype also.

    It’s sad companies like this cannot hold on for long.

    • Filip Justin

      Let me ask you a question.. If you owned a company that you would have built it from scratch with a couple million dollars and you get a 1 billion dollar offer, what would you do? Just asking..

      • Baiju M

        It depends. If I know that my product will in future doesn’t hold to competition from other innovators or big companies , i’ll cash in.

        But if there is a clear strategy and possibility on building on that product, I’ll rather turn down the offer.

        Filip, the concern is not how these companies are getting acquired, but rather the message you are sending to user community that they will not last long and product will get sun set in near future

        • If I had a crystal ball… What worries me is that we get this cross amalgamation in software that often times the baby gets thrown out with the bath water…and people expect this these days. In the meantime people (not liking change) start looking for something else (longing for change) and totally ignore the original product. If it works don’t fix it. Someone further up in the thread made reference to Skype/MSN… Just sayin.

        • And btw, I’d take the $1Bln if I’d only put a couple mil in.

    • le_lutin

      “It’s sad companies like this cannot hold on for long.”

      Are you kidding me? The long term strategy of companies like whatsapp is precisely to get bought out by one of the big boys.

  • nishantsirohi123

    i think Google should do it and merge it with g-talk and G+ messenger
    why not acquire “wattpad”…..the youtube of e books

  • Austin Wang

    Google should buy Wolfram Research
    They say they’re short on engineers

  • fzero17

    Google can combine Whatsapp and GTalk so we can message in any platform. Must of Google users are geeks ( at least they know about technology) and businessman. While whatsapp users is used by anyone ( i know people that doesn’t know a sh1t about Google services … )

  • easymac

    Google talk is multi-platform including PC and even more seamless than whatsapp. Gtalk allows concurrent login as well. It is a shame that it is losing out to whatsapp. However, Google needs some minor tweaks and improvement including better push notification, ability to send offline chats and not showing status of friends.