MENLO PARK, CA: Brunswick Group is handling communications for Facebook's planned acquisition of international messaging service WhatsApp.
The firm is working with both companies, according to a source with knowledge of the situation.
Facebook is set to pay $16 billion in cash and stock for WhatsApp. The deal also includes $3 billion in restricted stock units for WhatsApp staffers, which will vest for four years.
Although Allison+Partners has worked with WhatsApp for two years, the firm did not handle communications for the acquisition, said agency CEO Scott Allison. He confirmed that his agency would continue to work with the company after the deal.
“WhatsApp is a really lean company that has about 50 people and a very limited marketing strategy; there is no CMO, no head of comms,” he explained. “Will they expand and add more to that? Probably, but that is purely speculation on my part; I would be shocked if there were layoffs associated with the merger.”
Representatives from WhatsApp and Facebook were not immediately available for comment; Brunswick declined to comment on the deal.
Facebook also worked with Brunswick on communications for its IPO process in 2012. Former Brunswick US managing partner Michael Buckley joined Facebook as VP of business communications in January 2013.
On a conference call hosted by Facebook on Wednesday to discuss the acquisition, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that when he approached WhatsApp, he “proposed that if we joined, we could really connect the world.”
WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will join Facebook's board of directors; his company's headquarters will remain in Mountain View, CA.
WhatsApp's core messaging product and Facebook's existing Messenger app will continue to operate as separate applications, according to a statement from Facebook.
The social network's purchase of Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion was previously its largest acquisition.
The WhatsApp move will give the company more access to consumers in China, where Facebook has been blocked since 2009, but the texting service is available for download.
WhatsApp has 450 million monthly users and continues to grow with high popularity in markets outside the US such as Europe and India.
In the fourth quarter of last year, Facebook reported revenue of $2.59 billion, up 63% from the same quarter of 2012.