With Facebook’s massive acquisition of WhatsApp, many were curious as to why the social networking giant would be interested in a messaging platform. More to the point, why were they interested to the tune of $19 billion? Even more curious was WhatsApp’s rebuffing of Google’s apparent advances to acquire them. Now that the deal is done, new information on events leading up to the acquisition paint an odd picture.
“Going Google” seems to be the startup’s dream: make something useful, gain a following, and google comes along to swoop you up and into their fold. WhatsApp was apparently uninterested in that game, as reports suggest they were reluctant to discuss an acquisition with Google. Prior to today, we’d heard of a $10 billion offer from Google, but the latest news paints a strange picture of desire — or perhaps desperation — on Google’s part.
Google CEO Larry Page met with WhatsApp investors Sequoia Capital after hearing the messaging platform was in talks with Facebook. He promised Google would meet or beat any price Facebook was offering. WhatsApp wasn’t interested in going with Google, primarily because they felt Facebook had a batter grasp on what they were trying to do. It’s worth noting that Google was also willing to let WhatsApp operate independently, just as Facebook will. The more telling statement in the report from The Information is that WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum felt that Google was interested in their platform to spite Facebook, not necessarily because they wanted or needed them.
In summary: Google wants WhatsApp, WhatsApp doesn’t want Google, Google tries to muscle investors, WhatsApp goes with Google’s rival. It’s a telling tale of the lengths Google went to in an attempt to get WhatsApp, but an even more interesting store when looked at from WhatsApp’s perspective. Whether it was just plain insouciance on Whatsapp’s part, or their insistence on doing what they felt was right, one thing is clear: Google can’t have it all.