Facebook's $19 billion deal for WhatsApp was unprecedented, but according to a new report from The Information, Google was willing to match or beat Facebook's offer.
According to The Information's sources, Google offered WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum an out — a way to stay independent from Facebook, which saw its messaging reach as a threat.
The price tag was nearly double earlier reports, which pegged Google's interest in WhatsApp at $10 billion. (Via The Verge)
"Google has been obsessed with WhatsApp and and last year tried to pay WhatsApp to alert it, if WhatsApp should get into acquisition talks. Google really wanted this company. They made multiple overtures to buy it and didn't get it." (Via CNBC)
But it apparently wasn't just a question of economics. Even with the match-or-beat offer, Cult of Android speculates Google wasn't obsessed for the right reason.
"Facebook getting the nod over Google may have come down to Google's lack of excitement regarding WhatsApp — and its primary reason for buying it simply being so that it didn't wind up in the hands of Facebook."
Because whoever owns WhatsApp has direct access to that customer base for its own purposes — which an analyst tells Bloomberg don't necessarily align.
"It's like 'either you buy it or I buy it.' Whoever buys it first probably wins. The question is who's going to own the customer for what they do. In the case of Google it's search. In the case of Facebook it's social. Are they going to get into each other businesses?"
And now that Facebook has absorbed WhatsApp, The Next Web points out Google can't make an immediate counter-acquisition.
"No service or application comes close to the app's user base, both in terms of the sheer number of registrations and its broad spread across Asia, Europe, Africa and Latin America."
Google might just have to keep its eyes peeled for the next big messaging startup. Word will probably get around — it's a $19 billion market, after all.