Instant messaging service, WhatsApp, crashed just days after it was acquired by social media network Facebook for $19 billion. The phone app, which has circa 450 million monthly users, admitted to suffering from “server issues” on Saturday, which caused the outage. It used Twitter to say: “We hope to be back up and recovered shortly” after complaints from users.
Users of the popular service became angry when their chat conversations produced a loading asterisk along with “Connecting…” Many of the irate users took to Twitter to vent their displeasure at the situation. However, the service resumed some four hours later and on the face of it, things are running just as they had been before. Facebook confirmed on Thursday that it agreed a deal with WhatsApp to pay $4 billion in cash plus a further $15 billion in Facebook shares to acquire the real-time service. However, it will not be pleased with the negative publicity at the weekend as WhatsApp crashed days after Facebook acquired it.
The founders of WhatsApp and its employees will benefit from $3 billion of the shares as restricted stock. The shares are set to vest over fours after the deal has been completed. Although the purchase marks the largest single acquisition by Facebook, WhatsApp will remain an independent brand and continue as it is.
WhatsApp, a silicon valley start-up, was the brainchild of a Ukrainian immigrant college drop out Jan Koum and Brian Acton, a Stanford alumnus. Koum, who is a former Yahoo! engineer, also got a place on Facebook’s board of directors. Facebook is seen as a no-nonsense negotiator and showed its nous when it bought photo app Instagram for $1 billion after a weekend of talks. Facebook’s latest acquisition is seen as a leader in the smartphone message apps space. It is particularly appealing to the teenage generation who prefer it over mainstream networks. Just five years old, the app has been adding users on a daily basis and it shows no signs of slowing down. Analysts have predicted that this growth will only continue as the app is now owned by a well-established company. Although Facebook does have its detractors, most of the people who use it have remained loyal to the service has it has gone through different layout changes.
Although no official statement has been released explaining exactly what problems WhatsApp faced, many believe its acquisition saw it become even more popular with a surge of new users joining the service over the weekend. WhatsApp has so far failed to answer the accusations leveled at it. Furthermore, this is not the first time WhatsApp has suffered such an outage. Its Twitter account owned up to them in every month last year except January, February, March and April.
Nevertheless, such is the popularity of WhatsApp among its users, Facebook can only be happy with the growth of its latest addition. Even if crashed days after it acquired the service. Yet the growth of this sector means a potential rival could pop up soon, meaning Facebook could face new competition.
By Robert Shepherd