WhatsApp, the rapidly expanding mobile messaging app, suffered an outage for more than three hours on Saturday, frustrating users just days after its acquisition by Facebook for $19 billion.
“WhatsApp service has been restored. We are so sorry for the downtime…,” WhatsApp tweeted to its more than 1 million Twitter followers on Saturday around 5:48 p.m. EST (2248 GMT).
Earlier, the service had said it was “experiencing server issues” without providing further details. Facebook referred questions on the outage to WhatsApp representatives, who did not immediately respond.
Five-year-old WhatsApp currently has about 450 million users globally and has been adding a million users daily.
On Saturday, some of those users took to other forms of social media, including blogs and Twitter to report the outage and vent their frustration.
WhatsApp is the leader among a wave of smartphone-based messaging apps that are now sweeping across North America, Asia and Europe, and is known to appeal to teens and others who avoid mainstream social networks.
During the outage the buzz on Twitter ranged from the conspiratorial – that Facebook had really bought WhatsApp to shut it down and funnel users to Facebook Chat – to the philosophical.
“So now that #Whatsapp isn’t working I’ve actually talked to my family, they seem like nice people,” tweeted @Ali_Hilu, a self-described social media addict in Jordan.
And @Iamhollybrown of Surrey, England, scolded, “Can’t believe all these people are crying about Whatsapp not working, do some exercise, do some work, learn a language.” Reuters
“Facebook Inc is to buy messaging app firm WhatsApp for $19bn in cash and stock, Reuters reported.”
The deal is valued at more than Facebook raised in its IPO and will see the social media giant part with $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock and $3 billion in restricted stock. The acquisition is expected to attract more young users to Facebook’s platform, as such users are increasingly favouring mobile messaging platforms over social media.
WhatsApp has proved to be a classic Silicon Valley runaway success, accruing 450m users in five years. Its simple instant messaging model made it the leader among a wave of similar smartphone apps. WhatsApp, Viber and Skype are mostly blocked by Gulf telecoms providers.
WhatsApp was founded by Ukrainian immigrant and college dropout, Jan Koum – now the company’s CEO – and Stanford graduate, Brian Acton. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg yesterday said he hammered the deal out over dinner with Koum just 10 days earlier.
“No one in the history of the world has ever done something like this,” Zuckerberg declared.
Many analysts expressed puzzlement at the price Facebook will pay. The deal amounts to just over $42 per WhatsApp user, where Japan’s Rakuten bought Viber for $3 per user, in a $900m deal.
In addition, Zuckerberg and Koum announced that WhatsApp will continue to operate as a separate entity and retain its no-ads policy. Given that the service is free for the first year, after which it charges a mere $1 annual fee, questions have been raised over how the service would make money.
“This is a tacit admission that Facebook can’t do things that other networks are doing,” said Morningstar analyst Rick Summer, pointing to the fact that Facebook had photo-sharing and messaging before it bought Instagram and WhatsApp.
“They can’t replicate what other companies are doing so they go out and buy them. That’s not altogether encouraging necessarily and I think deals like these won’t be the last one and that is something for investors to consider.”