Jewish friendship behind Facebook purchase of WhatsApp

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has bought Whatsapp for more than £11 billion (Photo: Brian Solis)

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has bought Whatsapp for more than £11 billion (Photo: Brian Solis)

A friendship between two Jewish businessmen led to Facebook’s £11.4 billion acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp.

Mark Zuckerberg, the American-Jewish Facebook founder, worth an estimated £15 billion, said the deal would connect one billion people across the globe.

WhatsApp, which has 450 million users each month, was co-founded by Ukrainian Jewish refugee Jan Koum, who moved to the US from Kiev in 1992.

“I’ve known Jan for a long time and I’m excited to partner with him,” said 29-year-old Mr Zuckerberg.

"We really started talking about what it was going to be like to connect everyone in the world.

"It wasn't really until we got aligned on that vision between Facebook and WhatsApp that we actually started talking about numbers and decided to make a deal.

"It's that vision that I think makes the companies such a great fit.”

Former Yahoo! engineer Mr Koum, who co-founded the company with American Brian Acton, said: “We’re excited and honoured to partner with Mark and Facebook as we continue to bring our product to more people around the world.”

Mr Koum confirmed that he will join the board of directors at Facebook.

It is the social network’s largest acquisition to date. It will pay £2.4 billion in cash and £9 billion in Facebook shares.

Last updated: 10:37am, February 25 2014