Facebook announced Wednesday its acquisition of the popular texting service WhatsApp for a staggering $16 billion, plus $3 billion in stock options for the company's founders and employees to vest over four years. For those curious, that's nine zeros, and $18 billion more than the social network paid for Instagram in 2012. Besides its clever name, WhatsApp connects users to family and friends around the globe for as close to free as you can get in this day of tiered data plans. The first year of messaging is free, with each subsequent year costing $1 to send unlimited messages, pictures, and videos to other WhatsApp users.
Like Facebook, the messaging app has a global following that's only getting bigger — over one million people sign up for WhatsApp daily. It counts 450 million monthly users, with 70 percent of those actively using the service on a daily basis, a worldwide reach Facebook is clearly eager to be included in.
WhatsApp has been candid about its refusal to bombard users with in-app advertising and insists this won't change now that it's in the Facebook fold. In a blog post, company cofounder and CEO Jan Koum explained the autonomy the service will have: "You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee. You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you're using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication."
WhatsApp may arguably be the most popular mobile communication tool around the world, but it's not the only one. Below, discover the other messaging apps that could give Facebook's latest purchase a run for its $16 billion.
— Additional reporting by Lisette Mejia