February 2014

Facebook Pays $19 Billion for WhatsApp Acquisition

Picture 2-27-2014WhatsApp is an instant messaging app for smartphones that has been getting enormously popular in recent months, becoming the most popular messaging app for mobile devices; it works best as a messaging service that can send messages between phones internationally and allows for users to send text, images, audio, and video messages to one another. Some have stated that WhatsApp is doing for text messaging what Skype did to phone calls on landlines, in that it is totally revolutionizing the process.

Thus, it is unsurprising that a major company like Facebook took notice of WhatsApp, considering WhatsApp already had over 450 million users and was adding an additional million users every day at the time of the purchase, a number which is already increasing. With a growth rate that impeccable and a service that is extremely useful, Facebook leapt on the opportunity to purchase WhatsApp last week, by paying a whopping $19 billion to the employees of WhatsApp: $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock, and another $3 billion in stock grants that will be paid out if WhatsApp’s founders and staff remain employed by Facebook for four years.

Facebook has a tendency to always be growing, expanding, and changing with the market. The acquisition of WhatsApp is no different. Just like Facebook has continued to expand its other properties such as Instagram, they already have big plans for how to further enhance WhatsApp. Their first announcement has been that WhatsApp will be adding voice calls to its messaging service, putting it in competition with Skype and even mobile carriers.

There has been additional speculation about what Facebook will be doing with WhatsApp in the coming months. Though WhatsApp will continue to operate independently, it is likely that Facebook will do a lot of what it did for Instagram. The growth of WhatsApp and its user base is something that Facebook will likely focus on, as well as recruiting new employees from other companies and making design and coding changes to make WhatsApp better and more efficient.

Facebook’s “A Look Back” Inspires Sharing, Spoofs, and Sentimental Moments

social media blog1 pic 2-11-14Facebook launched “A Look Back,” a feature which allows users to see a Facebook generated one minute video of their biggest Facebook moments, in honor of the sites tenth birthday last week. Site members can edit and share these movies with their friend via their Facebook wall. In its first week, over 200 million people chose to view their video and half of these chose to share it with their friends. The videos show most-liked posts and some of the shared photos and statuses from each person’s Facebook page, set to instrumental music.

Since Facebook launched the feature last week, there have been an increasing number of parodies. These have included Facebook ‘Look Back’ videos for TV and movie characters, such as Optimus Prime from the Transformers series and Walter White from the hit TV series, Breaking Bad, which ended last year. Many people have shared these videos in addition to their own.

For some people, receiving a Facebook ‘Look Back’ has been a sentimental experience. For one father, the new Facebook feature allowed for celebration of his son’s short life. He released a video on YouTube asking CEO Mark Zuckerberg and the Facebook Team to make a video for his son’s page. Facebook responded by granting his request and promising to try to look into doing more for grieving families in the future.

Facebook created their “A Look Back” feature as a gift to their users. However, not everyone is happy about these videos. There has been a lot of backlash across social media, with people claiming that the videos are annoying. Some individuals were unhappy about their own videos, claiming that they were an invasion of privacy. The edit feature was added in part to remedy these claims. The videos will remain available for viewing until the end of the month, at which point they will disappear if they haven’t been posted to your wall.

Facebook Launches Paper, a News-Reading Application

Picture 2-6-2014Facebook’s most recent endeavor was launched for iOS on Monday; it’s a news reader application called Paper and it’s the first release from Facebook Creative Labs, a section of the company that is dedicated specifically to launching mobile apps that integrate Facebook in new and interesting ways. Thus far, the application is receiving positive reviews, integrating functions from Facebook and similar news reader apps like Flipboard and Feedly, while being packaged with an attractive and functional design.

One thing that’s particularly interesting about Paper’s design is that it lacks buttons. Instead, the app relies on swiping motions and phone tilts. The news reader will integrate both the News Feed of a user’s Facebook page as well as a variety of content sources such as popular blogs and news websites, which will allow Paper users to easily read or view all of the content and news that they are interested in.

Early reviews of Paper have been overwhelmingly positive, with some news sources even claiming that Paper could become a replacement for Facebook itself, due to the sleek way it integrates the News Feed and other useful information into one high quality application. Though Paper lacks some of the full features of Facebook, such as Events, it still includes most of the things that Facebook can do.

Not everyone is excited about Paper, however. In particular, a startup known as FiftyThree is upset about the name. Their own drawing application is also called Paper. However, their only trademark is for ‘Paper By FiftyThree’ rather than ‘Paper’ itself and it appears that the two companies are in a bit of a spat over the name. FiftyThree has attempted to trademark the name ‘Paper’ but this may be a legal loophole that allows Facebook to stick with the name.