A new report suggests that sometime before Facebook acquired WhatsApp, Google made an offer to snatch up the messaging service. The amount offered? A still-staggering $10 billion. WhatsApp clearly passed on the offer, but there are more interesting wrinkles to Google’s courtship.
According to a separate report by The Information, Google offered to pay a fee to WhatsApp for notifications on whether or not other offers had been made. In doing so, Google would have the notice required to make a counter-offer, essentially creating a bidding war for WhatsApp. This is pretty standard fare for companies that have already agreed to acquire a company, but it’s not something we’ve heard of when it comes to negotiations.
The timeframe of Google’s original offer isn’t known, but The Information notes the talks between Google and WhatsApp took place around six months ago — likely the same time Zuckerberg and company began talks with the messaging service. To their credit, WhatsApp declined to accept Google’s offer to keep them notified of any other negotiations. At some point, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum had dinner with Zuckerberg, and discussions began. The result of those talks is already known.
This is definitely interesting news. Google and Facebook were also said to be rivals in courting Snapchat, which neither ended up with. A WhatsApp acquisition may have been adjunct discussions, or the next phase in the quest for a messaging platform for both companies. While nobody really knows the inside story, here, one thing is curious to us; why didn’t WhatsApp at least pursue a Google acquisition? Maybe Google isn’t right for everyone.