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Rewind: Facebook, WhatsApp, and that $19 billion deal

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A lot of chatter on the Internet and elsewhere about the amazing deal Facebook put together to buy mobile messaging service, WhatsApp, for $19 billion. The social media network announced its newest acquisition last Wednesday. Immediately,  there were questions about WhatsApp. Oh, and the money deal made plenty of folks utter: “Say what?”

Here’s how it works. WhatsApp uses the Internet instead of a cellular network to send user data like text, images, video, and audio media messages. It’s free for the first year and 99 cents annually after that on WhatsApp. That’s a whole lot cheaper than most phone carriers charge — especially those providing international service. Also, WhatsApp doesn’t bother with ads trying to sell you stuff — and that’s a huge plus for many users.

In five years, WhatsApp has exploded and now has 450 million active users and reportedly adding about a million new users daily. It’s the startup baby of two former Yahoo employees who got turned down when they applied for jobs at Facebook. Now Brian Acton and Jan Koum are now billionaires thank to their huge deal with Facebook.

An immigrant from the Ukraine, Koum once lived on food stamps after arriving in Mountain View, in the heart of  the Silicon Valley. Both Koum and Acton were unemployed when they kick started WhatsApp and now they’re rolling in the dough. More on their success story on Forbes.

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