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WhatsApp, Bought by Facebook for $19 Billion.



The surprising tech news of the week is Facebook's $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp, a fast-growing mobile-messaging startup. WhatsApp allows smartphone users to evade phone company limits and send unlimited text messages. The service is free for the first year, and a buck for each following year. Five years after its creation by Jan Koum, a Ukrainian immigrant who dropped out of college, and Brian Acton, a Stanford alum, the app has 450 million users—most outside the United States—and a million new users signing up each day. The eye-popping price tag—about one-tenth the entire value of Facebook—is the shocker that's drawn much media notice. But there's another element to the story that is astounding: Koum and Acton have published a manifesto that radically critiques the foundation of modern capitalism—advertising—and denounces materialism. Facebook's business model, of course, depends upon both.

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