Tencent wanted to buy WhatsApp, but Mark Zuckerberg swooped in and stole the $19 billion deal while its CEO was having back surgery

Mark Zuckerberg on phone

Facebook shocked the world when it purchased WhatsApp for a jaw-dropped $US19 billion in 2014.

WhatsApp was a fledgling rocketship with millions of users around the globe, and it was being courted by other tech companies as a possible takeover target at the time.

One of those suitors was Chinese software giant Tencent, the maker of WeChat.

In a recent interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, Tencent CEO Ma Huateng revealed that his company was close to finalising an acquisition of WhatsApp when he had back surgery. Because of his personal level of involvement in the deal, his surgery delayed the talks just long enough for Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg to swoop in:

“In early 2014, Tencent was interested in buying the messaging service WhatsApp. An acquisition would have shocked the world and given Tencent immediate global reach. But as they neared the final stages of an agreement, Ma, who took an interest in the deal, had to undergo back surgery, which delayed a visit to Silicon Valley to negotiate with founder Jan Koum. Mark Zuckerberg then swooped in and acquired WhatsApp for $US19 billion, more than twice what Tencent had considered paying.”

The rest, as they say, is history.

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