Facebook has purchased WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion in cash and stock.

The sum makes the deal one of the loftiest in Facebook’s history, even more stunning considering WhatsApp is a startup that currently employees just 55 individuals.

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As part of the agreement, WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will become part of Facebook’s board. WhatsApp is a messaging subscription service for smartphones, and its acquisition could point to Facebook’s desire to broaden its messaging capabilities.

“WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable,” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a statement.

“I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him and his team to make the world more open and connected.”

“WhatsApp’s extremely high user engagement and rapid growth are driven by the simple, powerful and instantaneous messaging capabilities we provide,” added Koum.

“We’re excited and honored to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”

J-Connection: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is Jewish.

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