On 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.