WhatsApp: the Bomb That Shook Silicon Valley

SiliconValleyNightOn Wednesday afternoon, in a modern office building in San Francisco, entrepreneur Daniel Raffel saw a news alert cross his phone: Facebook Inc.  had just paid $19 billion for messaging start-up WhatsApp.

The founder of mobile app Snapguide Inc. immediately interrupted a meeting to tell his co-workers. The news was so shocking that no one believed him, even in an industry where billion-dollar deals occur monthly. “No!” said one employee on the videoconference line.

“It’s like being an Olympic athlete and getting a good time in your sport—and then, out of left field, your trainer tells you there’s this guy over in Russia, who has shaved another 30 seconds off that time. And it’s just like, ‘What?’ ” said Mr. Raffel.

Silicon Valley, which often feels like a small-town high school seeped in gossip and snark, was turned upside down by the largest acquisition of a startup in history.

 The deal is a high-water mark, reminiscent of when an unprofitable Netscape soared on the day it went public in 1995, triggering a wave of dot-com investments, or when Facebook’s initial public offering in 2012 raised the bar for a new wave of Internet companies.At WhatsApp’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., several employees celebrated with glasses of Cristal Champagne as co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton joined the ranks of newly minted tech billionaires. >more