Life lesson: You really shouldn’t listen to gossip, even if it is really juicy. Sometimes, though, its interesting enough that you want to know if its true or not, so you ask around just to make sure before telling other people.
Take, for example, a report from TechCrunch on Sunday, which said that Facebook is in talks to purchase WhatsApp, an ad-free cross-platform mobile messaging app. The report was not substantiated, but, given that Facebook already had a messenger service, I was very curious as to why it would want a second one, and what Facebook would do with it.
A WhatsApp spokesperson has told VatorNews, "The TechCrunch article is a rumor and not factually accurate. We have no further information to share at the moment."
I don't know if I am reading something that isn't there, but I would have expected the denial to be stronger if no part of the story were true. VatorNews asked WhatsApp if the entire story was inaccurate, or only specifics, but we have not heard back yet.
A Facebook spokesperson would neither confirm, nor deny the story, simply saying, ““We don’t comment on rumor or speculation.”
Why would Facebook have wanted WhatsApp?
If the rumor turns out to be true, then WhatsApp would most likely become Facebook’s second messaging app. In March 2011, Facebook acquired Beluga, a free and private group messaging service for iPhone and Android devices, for an undisclosed amount. Beluga was eventually transformed into Facebook Messenger, which was launched in August 2011.
It makes sense that Facebook would want to partner with WhatsApp, as the app has seen a tremendous growth curve. In October 2011, it announced that it had seen one billion messages sent in one day for the first time. By August of 2012, the number was 10 billion.
The Santa Clara, California-based company was founded in 2009, and raised $8 million in funding from Sequoia Capital in April 2011.
Whatapp Messenger currently ranks as the second most popular paid App on iOS, according to AppData, so there is obviously a sizable userbase that would come with its acquisition.
If Facebook is planning on launching a second messaging app, it would not be the first time Facebook had two apps that do, essentially, the same thing.
After Facebook purchased Instagram for $1 billion cash in April, it then went ahead and debuted its stand-alone Camera app for iOS, with 14 different filters such as cool, light, and copper, in May. The app also let users tag friends and locations, add a description, and post quickly within the app. In essence, it was an Instagram copy made by the company that had just bought Instagram!
Of course, that happened in reverse, with it only launching the stand-alone camera after it bought Instagram, while this time it would be buying the a substantiated messenger servce over a year after launching its stand-alone.
Apparently, though, WhatsApp will not be fulfilling this role for Facebook. What role, if any, WhatsApp has in its future as some kind of partner for Facebook, remains to be seen.