Eat Your Heart Out, Snapchat: Facebook Buys Whatsapp for $16b

on Wednesday, Feb. 19th

After this afternoon’s news that Facebook is purchasing messaging app Whatsapp for $16 billion, there’s a sentiment that’s swirling around in the non-tech Twitterverse: “how can an app we’ve never heard of” be worth this much? (Emphasis mine).

Sequoia Capital’s blog has a celebratory post that breaks down some of the numbers, including a key one: Whatsapp has 450 million users.

And a lot of those users are in India and the UK, where the app took off a full year before I began noticing American friends appearing in my contacts list.

As to that emphasis above: Americans seem to be baffled that a product not centered on U.S. users could be worth that much. Don’t be.

Whatsapp has a paid subscription service. India is one billion strong, and Mark Zuckerberg and his Internet.org project aim to get more of them online — and onto mobile:

India is a really big opportunity if we can achieve something like this. My understanding is that there are only a 100 million people, may be a bit more, who have broadband Internet access out of the population of a billion or more. And a way more people have phones but a lot of them have no access to the Internet on their phones. We want to work with the mobile operators there and people who are selling phones like Nokia, Samsung, who are partners of the Internet.org. And in order to make the economics work, these people who could not afford Internet access before will now be going to have some Internet access.

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