SAN FRANCISCO -- Facebook made WhatsApp the kind of offer it couldn’t possibly refuse: $19 billion plus a pledge to pay out $2 billion if the deal doesn’t go through.
But some users of the popular mobile messaging app say the acquisition is a raw deal for them. And they have gathered on Twitter to say they plan to delete the WhatsApp app.
Many of them are complaining about Facebook’s privacy incursions. But the main objection seems to be all the ads on Facebook -- and how Facebook exploits what you share with your friends to pitch stuff to you and them.
WhatsApp has gained a loyal following in part because of its steadfast refusal to run any ads on its service.
“WhatsApp has never tried to market anything to their users,” said Tero Kuittinen, an analyst with mobile diagnostics firm Alekstra. “The owners of WhatsApp have been running a monastery. They’ve had a very strict, almost religious message: no ads.”
Facebook said Wednesday it would pay $4 billion in cash and $12 billion in Facebook shares for WhatsApp. An additional $3 billion in restricted stock units will be granted to WhatsApp founders and employees. Those stock units will vest over the next four years, Facebook said.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Jan Koum emphasized that nothing would change when WhatsApp becomes part of the Facebook empire. He said WhatsApp would remain focused on growing its user ranks and that when it does pursue a business, it will be one that does not alienate its users.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also said Facebook would not run ads on WhatsApp.
(That statement probably sent shudders through Wall Street. Facebook Chief Financial Officer David Ebersman tried to calm nerves by saying that over time WhatsApp would deliver “significant returns for shareholders.”)
But some WhatsApp users didn’t appear too concerned with returns for shareholders and didn’t seem to think much of Facebook’s pledge to maintain the status quo. Instead someone started a Facebook page: “Please Don’t Ruin WhatsApp.” Others tweeted links to instructions on how to delete your WhatsApp account.
Tweeted Corley Paige, a product developer from Austin, Texas: “I suddenly want to delete my Whatsapp. Hello Viber.”
Similar outcries have accompanied other big deals, such as Facebook’s $1-billion acquisition of Instagram, which remains very popular with users.