Facebook stunned the tech world this week when it announced that it was paying $16 billion up front along with $3 billion in vested payments to buy WhatsApp, the incredibly popular messaging app that has 450 million users. We’d already read reports suggesting that Google was willing to pay up to $10 billion for WhatsApp but now The Information’s Amir Efrati and Jessica Lessin report that Google was actually willing to beat Facebook’s offer for the company.
Last week, Google CEO Larry Page met with WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum in a last-ditch effort to prevent the rapidly growing messaging app from selling itself to Facebook, according to three people involved in the deal. The Google chief had learned that a few days before, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had made a pitch to Mr. Koum to join his company and his board of directors, a bold move Mr. Zuckerberg felt he had to make to preserve Facebook’s dominance in online communication in light of WhatsApp’s growing global popularity. Mr. Page’s message to Mr. Koum: Stay independent as you’ve always planned. You’re a big threat to Facebook. And joining Facebook would have a major impact on “how things play out for years to come,” according to one of the people involved in the talks.