In a surprise announcement Facebook have confirmed it is to buy WhatsApp -- the popular mobile messaging service.

The total value of the deal is $16 billion; $12bn in stock and the remaining $4bn in cash.

Jan Koum, a former Yahoo engineer and WhatsApp’s co-founder, will join Facebook's board of directors.

In a blog post WhatsApp assured its users that nothing will change:

Almost five years ago we started WhatsApp with a simple mission: building a cool product used globally by everybody. Nothing else mattered to us.

Today we are announcing a partnership with Facebook that will allow us to continue on that simple mission. Doing this will give WhatsApp the flexibility to grow and expand, while giving me, Brian, and the rest of our team more time to focus on building a communications service that’s as fast, affordable and personal as possible.

Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing.

WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee. You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you’re using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product.

Facebook also published a brief statement, also confirming

[the] company will continue to operate independently and retain its brand

WhatsApp has around 400 million monthly active users.

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