Forbes has been doing a great job of covering the story behind WhatsApp. If you're too lazy to read their entire stories, here are a few more lessons that I took away from the saga:
1. Do something that people easily understand.
WhatsApp had a simple vision: SMS, but free. Hard to argue with that!
2. Do something hard.
The WhatsApp founders were hardcore technical, and built WhatsApp on their own servers running things like Erlang, so they could provide better reliability and performance.
3. Companies are bought, not sold.
Mark Zuckerberg reached out to WhatsApp founder Jan Koum unsolicited, and pursued the company with great persistence. Facebook accelerated the acquisition when they found out that Google was sniffing around as well.
4. Leaders, not lawyers and bankers, do deals.
Koum and Zuckerberg hammered out their deal 1:1, at Zuck's house, on Valentine's Day. Only after they had reached agreement did they call in the deal people to paper things up.
I love well-reported detail:
"Koum walked out of the room and found Zuckerberg. “I just talked to
Brian,” Koum said. “He thinks we should work together and that you’re a
good guy and we should do it.”
The two of them shook hands and then hugged. Zuckerberg remarked it
was “f–king exciting,” and whipped out a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue
Label, which he knew was Koum’s favorite Scotch. They each called their
business-development directors to come over and finalize the process.
About an hour later Koum drove home in his Porsche and went to bed."