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Zuckerberg’s Facebook buys WhatsApp for $19 billion

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(JTA) — Facebook will buy the mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock, the company announced.

“No one in the history of the world has ever done something like this,” Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said during a conference call on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, 38, grew up a Jewish and “a rebellious little kid” in a poor village outside of Kiev, Wired reported. Koum and his mother immigrated to the United States when he was 16 to escape the “troubling political and anti-Semitic environment,” Forbes reported Wednesday.

“I’ve also known Jan for a long time, and I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected,” Zuckerberg, who also is Jewish, wrote on his Facebook page.

The purchase in $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock and $3 billion in restricted stock, is the company’s largest acquisition ever, and bigger than any acquisitions ever made Google, Microsoft or Apple, according to the Associated Press. It is equal to about 11 percent of Facebook’s market value.

WhatsApp, a free mobile messaging service similar to texting, currently has 450 million users, with an additional million joining every day, according to reports. Users pay a $1 yearly fee to use the WhatsApp app; the first year is free.

Facebook said that WhatsApp will continue to operate independently after the purchase.

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