Facebook purchased a text messaging application for $19 billion.
It happened Tuesday afternoon, when many businesses were closing shop for the day, but the $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp is still on people's mind. Technology professionals are curious and the average person is asking Facebook, what's WhatsApp?
Before we get into the details of this business venture, this is a great example of why companies should try to hire and retain employees with an entrepreneurial mindset. Right before WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton teamed up with Jan Koum in 2009, he was in the running for a job at Facebook, according to the Guardian. When the opportunity fell through, according to Acton's tweet, the coding began.
WhatsApp can send texts, video and photo messages to users anywhere around the world. Subscribers are allowed to use it for free for 12 months, then after that have to pay $1 per year, the Wall Street Journal explained.
It is unclear how many of the 450 million members are paying the fee, but its growth was faster than any other social networking website — Facebook only had one-third of users after being in business for four years. Currently, WhatsApp has about 70 percent of its customer base using the mobile application at least once per day, whereas 61 percent of Facebook's members log on.
"This is clearly also a play at securing their base of younger users who are married to text messaging," Rebecca Lieb, analyst at Altimeter Group told the Journal.
The inspiration for WhatsApp derived from co-founder Koum's childhood in Soviet Union-era Ukraine. When he immigrated to the United States, he wanted to securely communicate with friends and family back home.
"I grew up in a society where everything you did was eavesdropped on, recorded, snitched on. Nobody should have the right to eavesdrop, or you become a totalitarian state – the kind of state I escaped as a kid to come to this country where you have democracy and freedom of speech," Koum told the Guardian. "Our goal is to protect it."
Ultimately, Facebook's decision to purchase WhatsApp appears like a $19 billion human resources mistake. Hiring managers may want to create an interviewing process that incorporates multiple facets of the job description. HR software solutions can help screen the "cookie cutter" candidate, but it can also help find the outliers that can perform specific tasks that can be of use to the organization.