Sundar Pichai at D: All Things Digital conference
Despite widespread reporting that Google bid and failed to purchase WhatsApp ahead of Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of the messaging platform company, Google SVP Sundar Pichai went on the record during a panel discussion at Mobile World Congress to put that claim to bed, The Telegraph reports.
“Whatsapp was definitely an exciting product,” he said. “We never made an offer to acquire them. Press reports to the contrary are simply untrue.”
The source of the reports that Google attempted to pick up WhatsApp for $10 billion source back to a report by Fortune citing “two separate sources” claiming Google had previously underbid Facebook.
The Information (paywalled) added to the mix that Google CEO Larry Page met with WhatsApp’s leadership just before Facebook’s acquisition went public in a last minute effort to at least keep WhatsApp from selling.
While Pichai explicitly states that Google made no offer to buy WhatsApp, there was certainly smoke signaling a connection prior to Facebook’s acquisition of the firm. Reports surfaced just over a year ago describing talks between Google and WhatsApp over a possible acquisition, but WhatsApp was quick to deny any such talks.
Google later released its rumored “Babel” messaging service branded under the Hangouts brand, a service which includes chat similar to WhatsApp.