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Facebook deal for $19 billion app no shock to tech execs

One school of thought is that Facebook wanted to own WhatsApp before it became too big to compete against.
One school of thought is that Facebook wanted to own WhatsApp before it became too big to compete against.Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images

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Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of mobile messaging startup WhatsApp was widely labeled a stunner, but the news seemed to surprise no one in local tech circles Thursday.

Even the price tag — higher than the stock market value of corporate giants like American Airlines Group Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc. — was generally viewed as reasonable for a company with a rapidly expanding user base that already totals 450 million people.

“It was probably worth it to them to block another giant from getting that kind of social reach,” said Katie Rae, managing director of the Techstars Boston business accelerator program.

Some went so far as to suggest that Facebook might have gotten a bargain.

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