According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook is purchasing the popular messaging app WhatsApp for $16 billion.
WhatsApp is available on all major operating systems, and currently has 450 million monthly users, many outside the U.S. The acquisition is the largest-ever purchase of a venture capital-backed company.
Despite WhatsApp’s massive scale and hyper-speed growth, the company only employs 55 people, about 60% of whom are engineers. Co-founders Jan Kourn and Brian Acton are former Yahoo employees, and apparently Kourn — who moved to the U.S. from the Ukraine when he was 16 — is particularly adamant about user privacy, and messages are deleted from the WhatsApp system once delivered.
Considering WhatsApp users upload 600 million photos a day, and 50 billion messages total, Kourn’s appreciation for user data should be somewhat relieving for NSA conspiracy theorists (heya, Pando Daily!). Of course, now that Kourn’s reporting to Dark Lord Zuckerberg, certain values may have to shift…