United States: Google denies bidding on whatsapp
Claims that Facebook outbid Google in its $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp are untrue, a top executive has said.
Google did not bid for WhatsApp, the company revealed yesterday. Suggestions that Facebook’s $19bn purchase of the instant messaging service outbid a $10 billion offer from Google are “simply untrue,” the company’s Senior Vice President Sundar Pichai said.
Mr Pichai, speaking at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, praised WhatsApp’s achievements, and said the company had talked to them in the past about working more closely together. “Whatsapp was definitely an exciting product,” he said. “We never made an offer to acquire them. Press reports to the contrary are simply untrue.”
Mark Zuckerberg said earlier in the week that the service, which has 465m users, is worth significantly more than the $19bn he paid for it and will help spread internet access to billions more people.
The Facebook chief executive said that even as an independent company without the benefit of Facebook’s marketing clout, WhatsApp would be “quite a good bet” to be a major communications company.
He said: “I could be wrong. It could be the one service that reaches 1bn [users] and doesn’t become valuable.”
Previous reports had suggested that Google had entered a deal with WhatsApp that meant the messaging service would inform them of any approaches, and that Google had bid $10bn despite the fact the site was valued at just $1.5bn in its final valuation before acquisition.
Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp, announced at the same conference that within months the app will offer free voice calls to its users, increasing its threat to mobile operators.
Mr Zuckerberg has been talking up his new acquisition, which at $19bn dwarves his previous purchase of photo-sharing app Instagram for $1bn. Sources suggested that anonymously sourced stories claiming the company had outbid Google were in Facebook’s interest.