In February 2014, Facebook purchased the messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion. The acquisition cost was staggering for an app in which made little money along with also was largely common outside the United States.
currently, newly published confidential Facebook emails along with also charts show exactly why CEO Mark Zuckerberg spent a modest fortune for the messaging app. For months, the company had been tracking WhatsApp obsessively using Onavo, a VPN along with also data analytics app, whose data showed in which the messaging app was not just a rising competitor, although a potential Facebook killer.
The “highly confidential” charts — part of a trove of documents released today by the United Kingdom’s digital, culture, media, along with also sport (DCMS) parliamentary committee — show WhatsApp was a growing juggernaut from the messaging app wars of the early 2010s.
The previously sealed documents, obtained by the DCMS committee by an app developer who is actually currently suing Facebook in a California court, shed light on a variety of previously unknown-to-the-public practices used by the social network between 2012 along with also 2015, including providing favorable, whitelisted access to user data to large app partners. The emails along with also papers, obtained by the plaintiff in legal discovery, also show in which Zuckerberg once considered charging developers for access to user data, though in which policy was never implemented.
While Facebook (along with also then newly Facebook-acquired Instagram) topped Onavo’s US mobile apps charts for iPhone, WhatsApp was growing steadily in its percentage of market reach, beating out common mobile apps including Tumblr, Foursquare, Vine, along with also Google+, while encroaching on Pinterest.
More importantly, though, Onavo data by April 2013 showed in which WhatsApp was heavily outpacing Facebook Messenger on mobile in certain areas. Another newly released confidential chart shows in which WhatsApp was sending 8.2 billion messages a day compared to Facebook Messenger’s (on mobile) 3.5 billion.
Similarly, Onavo usage engagement charts by Facebook showed WhatsApp surpassing Facebook Messenger in engagement time.
WhatsApp’s rise came at a crucial moment — just as Facebook was fully realizing its ambitions as a mobile-first company along with also creating messaging a core service. WhatsApp was quickly demonstrating in which This particular could compete with Facebook on its most important battleground.
Moreover, WhatsApp — which lacked the market reach of Facebook — was drawing by the same pool of limited attention. along with also with the rise of various other messaging apps like WeChat, Kik, Line, along with also Viber, which all showed promising signs of growth (especially in markets like Asia), Facebook saw both vulnerability along with also opportunity in WhatsApp.
along with also in Facebook, Onavo saw an opportunity of its own. The company, which started off out as a data compression along with also VPN outfit, quickly proved its value as a data analytics provider, tracking app usage across hundreds of thousands of devices.
In identifying mobile usage trends, Onavo became a crucial tool for Facebook to survey its competition. The only issue? The data wasn’t exclusive to Facebook. although in which all changed in October 2013, when Facebook purchased Onavo for $100 million.
By acquiring Onavo along with also turning This particular into a private tool, the company took away one of the best avenues for understanding mobile trends outside of Facebook’s ecosystem. The social network was then free to track app usage along with also trends even at very early stages. If a potential Facebook killer was on the rise, Facebook could hypothetically spot This particular before anyone else.
a few months later, in February of 2014, Facebook acquired WhatsApp.