Morning Media Newsfeed: Facebook Buys WhatsApp | First Look Hires Taibbi | Greenwald Vows Return

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Facebook’s Latest Acquisition? That’s WhatsApp! (AllFacebook)
After its unsuccessful bid for photo-messaging application Snapchat last November, reportedly valued at more than $3 billion, Facebook opened up the vaults and announced its acquisition of cross-platform mobile messaging company WhatsApp for $4 billion in cash and some $12 billion in Facebook shares, also announcing that WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum will join Facebook’s board of directors. CNNMoney Buying WhatsApp will only bolster Facebook’s already strong position in the crowded messaging world. Messenger, Facebook’s standalone messaging app for mobile devices, is second only to WhatsApp in its share of the smartphone market. The Verge In a press release announcing the monumental buyout, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, “WhatsApp is on a path to connect 1 billion people. The services that reach that milestone are all incredibly valuable.” He also shared news of the deal on his personal Facebook page, saying, “WhatsApp will complement our existing chat and messaging services to provide new tools for our community.” Over 450 million people use WhatsApp each month, according to statistics in the press release, with 70 percent of those users active on a given day. GigaOM Facebook is going to end up competing with apps like Line and WeChat in many markets for the consumer’s mobile minutes and WhatsApp gives the Menlo Park-based company a strong competitive weapon. While potential monetization remains a bit of a head scratcher, there are more options for the company to think about, like new native advertisements in the near future. Forbes Koum picked a meaningful spot to sign the $19 billion deal to sell his company WhatsApp to Facebook Wednesday. Koum, co-founder Brian Acton and venture capitalist Jim Goetz of Sequoia drove a few blocks from WhatsApp’s discreet headquarters in Mountain View to a disused white building across the railroad tracks, the former North County Social Services office where Koum, 37, once stood in line to collect food stamps.

First Look Hires Matt Taibbi (NYT)
Matt Taibbi, who made a name as a fierce critic of Wall Street at Rolling Stone magazine, has joined First Look Media, the latest big-name journalist to leave an established brand to enter the thriving and well-financed world of news start-ups. Pierre Omidyar has pledged $250 million to the project. “It’s obvious that we’re entering a new phase in the history of journalism,” Taibbi said. BoingBoing Taibbi will lead his own publication focused on financial and political corruption. The new magazine does not yet have a name or a precise launch date. FishbowlNY On Twitter, New York Times reporter John Schwartz quickly surmised that vanguard journalism funder Omidyar “likes vampire squid,” while colleague Ravi Somaiya closes out his brief exclusive item with the lineage of this Taibbi allegory.

Glenn Greenwald: ‘No Question’ I’ll Return to The U.S.’ (HuffPost)
Glenn Greenwald told HuffPost Live on Wednesday that there is “no question” that he will try to return to the U.S. soon and that he may use his recent receipt of the prestigious Polk Award to “force the issue” of whether or not he will face legal action if he comes into America. With the director of national intelligence suggesting that journalists who used material leaked by Edward Snowden could be seen as his “accomplices,” Greenwald could be justified in sensing some level of legal danger if he chose to enter the U.S. But he told HuffPost Live’s Alyona Minkovski that he refused to be “exiled from my own country.” FishbowlDC “I’m going to force the issue just on principle, and I think coming back for a ceremony like the Polk Award or other forms of journalistic awards would be a really good symbolic test,” Greenwald said.