Facebook has just dived into its war chest again to make another big purchase, this time it’s buying the popular messaging service WhatsApp for $16 billion in cash and stock with another $3 billion in shares over the next four years for WhatsApp’s founders and employees. That figure dwarfs the nearly $1 billion it paid for Instagram last year and the supposed $3 billion it was willing to pay for Snapchat as well. The last time there were acquisition rumours around WhatsApp was in 2013 when Google and Facebook were both reported to be looking at around $1 billion to snap up the messaging service.

As with Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram last year, WhatsApp will continue running as its own business and keep its own name and offices with its founder and CEO Jan Koum joining Facebook’s board of directors. However, unlike Instagram, WhatsApp already has a clear revenue model charging users $0.99 (currently R10,76) a year to use its service after one free year when they first sign on instead of using advertising revenue.

When looking at WhatsApp’s stats, you begin to realise just how big the messaging platform has grown in only four years. It has already racked up 450 million users, 320 million of whom use the service every day which is almost a third of the amount of mobile active users that Facebook has at 945 million. Mark Zuckerberg even went so far as to say that “WhatsApp is the only app we’ve ever seen with higher engagement than Facebook itself,” in a conference call after the announcement.

While competitors like WeChat and BBM are still relevant, Facebook’s newest branch can boast that here are almost as many WhatsApp messages sent every day, over 50 billion of them in fact, as there are SMS messages sent on every network on earth combined.

However the biggest number that needs to be considered is the amount of photos that are shared through WhatsApp every day. WhatsApp users send more than 500 million images a day which easily bests the combined efforts of Facebook’s 350 million and Instagram’s 55 million. While Facebook failed in its attempts to grab Snapchat last year, its users send over 400 million photos a day making it even more likely a target for Mark Zuckerberg’s next spending spree.

Source: Facebook, WhatsApp