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Did Facebook make a mistake with WhatsApp?

February 20, 2014: 1:29 PM ET

Facebook is paying around $19 billion for WhatsApp, in the fifth-largest tech acquisition of all-time. Will it prove bargain or bust?


FORTUNE -- Earlier today I appeared on CNBC to discuss Facebook's (FB) stunning $19 billion purchase of WhatsApp, the mobile messaging platform that has grown from 200 million users to over 450 million users in just the past nine months. In short, the hosts wanted to know if it was a smart or dumb deal.

In all honesty, it's WAY too early to say. But I wouldn't bet against Mark Zuckerberg just because this deal feels oversized at first blush. Remember, so did Instagram.

What does seem clear, however, is that this deal should seriously concern some other players. Like Google (GOOG), which spent more than a year (unsuccessfully) trying to buy WhatsApp. Or rival messaging apps like Kik, Snapchat and WeChat -- all of which just lost a major suitor, and now may need to battle it out to be number two. Or current wireless carriers, who make a fortune off of SMS (the functionality that WhatsApp virtually gives away for free). Or Apple (AAPL), if only because some of its shareholders may now feel that it has totally missed the boat on a giant new opportunity, despite having the resources to have bested Facebook.

Anyway, here is the CNBC conversation with myself and Business Insider's Henry Blodgett:

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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