By Julian Hattem - 02/19/14 05:32 PM EST
Facebook will pay $16 billion for the messaging application WhatsApp, the social network giant announced on Wednesday.
“Our mission is to make the world more open and connected. We do this by building services that help people share any type of content with any group of people they want," Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder and chief executive, said in a Facebook post shortly after the purchase was announced.
"WhatsApp will help us do this by continuing to develop a service that people around the world love to use every day.”
WhatsApp is a nearly five-year-old service that allows users to send texts, images or other messages without having to pay for SMS charges. Instead, users pay a yearly fee of 99 cents.
More than 450 million people use it each month, about 70 percent of whom are active on the service on any given day. More than 1 million people sign up every day.
In a release announcing the purchase, Facebook compared the acquisition to its 2012 purchase of Instagram, the picture-sharing service. The Menlo Park, Calif., company said that WhatsApp’s employees will be able to focus on its own growth while taking advantage of the social network’s vast resources. The app will also retain its own brand, independent of Facebook.
“WhatsApp's extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide,” WhatsApp’s co-founder and chief executive Jan Koum said in a statement.
“We're excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”
Koum is a former employee of Yahoo, and will join Facebook’s board of directors under the terms of the agreement.