WhatsApp founders struggled to align with Facebook

Today, The Wall Street Journal ran a very long, well researched story about how WhatsApp struggled to gel with Facebook after its $22 billion acquisition, ultimately resulting in the founders leaving the company:

WhatsApp was an incongruous fit within Facebook from the beginning. Messrs. Acton and Koum are true believers on privacy issues and have shown disdain for the potential commercial applications of the service. Facebook, on the other hand, has built a sprawling, lucrative advertising business that shows ads to users based on data gathered about their activities. 

The piece describes an increasingly frustrating experience for both sides, with WhatsApp refusing to monetize its service beyond the $0.99/year fee, and Facebook pushing for advertising.

But what's even more surprising is how arms-length the company stayed once at Facebook, even after joining the team on campus: 

"Some Facebook staffers considered the WhatsApp unit a mystery and sometimes poked fun at it. After WhatsApp employees hung up posters over the walls instructing hallway passersby to “please keep noise to a minimum,” some Facebook employees mocked them with chants of “Welcome to WhatsApp—Shut up!”

Both WhatsApp founders have now left the company, and Facebook is getting what it's always wanted: a way to monetize the product with its 400 million active 'Status' users (yes, WhatsApp Status is just like Instagram Stories, but in WhatsApp).

Read the story about WhatsApp, and how it attempts to paint the founders as exasperated by losing a billion over resigning early, then consider the naivetÊ of selling your company to a advertising giant and being surprised when it wants you to monetize it with ads.

Microsoft beat out Google for GitHub

I hadn't expected to navigate a new world in which Microsoft owns GitHub this week, but I'm even more surprised to learn that the company was essentially up for sale by anyone.

GitHub was also talking to Google actively before it sold this week, along with Amazon, Atlassian, Tencent and others, which I am surprised did not snap it up faster. 

Atlassian, which owns competing platform Bitbucket, would've been an interesting market-stealing stroke of genius, but it's likely it balked at the price the company demanded.

One thing I also noted from the acquisition after the fact is that it was almost a fire-sale price, in which no cash directly changed hands. The company was losing a lot of money, and it appears it decided pursuing acquisition actively was a better idea than trying to IPO.

Microsoft acquired the company entirely in a stock-exchange deal that sees shareholders end up with quite valuable Microsoft stock, including some getting more of a stake than the current CEO of Microsoft.

Is Time Well Spent a good thing?

From Discuss today, a great piece of insight thanks to Sander on Apple and Google's efforts to include self-awareness features on their mobile operating systems:

"I’m actually not sure that this is all good. I believe the intentions are good, but ultimately could end up with Apple and Google legitimizing and gamifying wasting time under the umbrella of ‘Time Well Spent’"

Adam argues that the issue with these tools is they're just deflecting the blame:

"The real issue with adding features like these: they actually betray the actual issue in that you’re constantly fighting against things that have been designed to hook you in"

Join the chat here with your own thoughts, I'd love to hear them!

Tab Dump

Facebook's new 'lip-sync live' is a direct competitor of musical.ly
The big news here is Facebook is letting you upload videos with copywrited music in them, and Facebook will pay the royalties thanks to broad deals it's closed. That's a huge win, and alludes to a potential eventuating in a Facebook Music service.

ZTE signed early agreement to lift US ban on trade
$1B fine and all of the damage of everyone throwing on the brakes later, it looks like ZTE might be saved.

100,000 videos of driving for autonomous vehicle training is now open source

Snitch tagging is ruining Twitter
Please, stop it