WhatsApp Buyout by Facebook for $19 Billion Sees Users Abandon App: Flock to Competitor Telegram in Millions

By Matthew Buzzi , Updated Feb 25, 2014 07:31 PM EST

Facebook recently announced an out-of-nowhere purchase of WhatsApp Inc., creators of the world's largest smartphone instant messaging app WhatsApp, for a mere $19 billion. Following this news, millions of users have fled the service, a real opportunity for competing apps to snap up users.

As TechCrunch reported, messaging app Telegram has been a beneficiary of this situation, gaining 8 million new users since the Facebook purchase news dropped. The reason for users looking for an alternative to WhatsApp is likely multi-fold, though they may get their numbers back one day regardless.

People have learned to be a bit distrustful of Facebook as time has gone on, largely due to beliefs that the social networking giant is mining and collecting personal data to use for marketing, and sharing with who knows what companies. Additionally, TechCrunch points out that Facebook's own messaging apps don't do that well relatively on the app store, meaning users might just not think Facebook will take WhatsApp in a good direction.

In a more general sense, there is something going on in the cultural mindset in the US regarding app security. The Snowden leaks revealing the US government, with the cooperation of major corporations, has been collecting and looking at personal data of Americans has everyone on their toes about who is seeing their data.

Privacy is a top concern, more important than ever, and a big company that has a reason to want personal data like Facebook raises red flags with users.

Telegram was growing before this news, getting 300,000-400,000 downloads per day, Russian founder Pavel Durov tells TechCrunch, whose Alexia Tsotsis wrote, "Durov says that after the news, the app's growth rate increased around 3x to 800,000 - 1 million new downloads a day across iOS, Android and Windows. On the day of WhatsApp's downtime, it added 1.8 million users. Yesterday it added 4.9 million, and propelled itself to its current No. 4 slot in iOS right behind three, yes three, Flappy Bird-inspired apps."

This is a tremendous increase, and good for them. It speaks to what might become a larger trend in the industry given how many users were involved-big businesses aren't necessarily better at things. We've seen it in video games as well, as indies becoming increasingly popular and gamer continue to criticize business practices of big publishers and triple-A studios.

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