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Who owns WhatsApp?

Who owns WhatsApp?
Nemanja Curcic

WhatsApp (officially WhatsApp Messenger) is a massively popular instant messaging service that allows clients to send text and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share various media like photos, videos, documents, and user locations. Today’s article will explore who owns WhatsApp and its relationship with its parent company, Meta (NASDAQ: META), and give insight into the app’s massive success. 

Who owns WhatsApp?

With over 2 billion monthly active users as of 2024, WhatsApp is the third most popular social networking platform, behind only Facebook and YouTube, and almost tied for third place with Instagram.

WhatsApp is owned by Meta Platforms, Inc. (Formerly Facebook, Inc.), which also owns Facebook, Instagram, and Threads.

WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, formerly employed at Yahoo. The app’s idea was to show the statuses of iPhone contact entries, notifying whether the person was available, at work, or on a call. However, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) introduced push notifications in June 2009, allowing users to receive a ping even when not using the app. The “unintended” effect was that users pinged each other with custom statuses, which turned the app towards instant messaging. In August 2009, WhatsApp 2.0 introduced purpose-designed messaging, and the number of active users spiked from a dozen to 250,000.

Fun fact: As the first versions of WhatsApp were highly unstable and kept crashing, Koum considered quitting the project but was convinced by Acton to give it “a few more months.”

In February 2014, Facebook, Inc. (today Meta Platforms) acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion, the largest acquisition of a venture-capital-backed company in history at the time. The app has remained its subsidiary ever since.

Recommended video: Zuckerberg on WhatsApp acquisition

Source: CNN Business YouTube

About WhatsApp

Originally headquartered in Mountain View, California, WhatsApp is now owned by Meta Platforms. By 2015, it had become the world’s most popular instant messaging app, with more than 2 billion users worldwide. By 2016, the app has become the primary communication medium for large portions of Latin America, India, Europe, and Africa. 

About Meta

Meta Platforms is a global IT market player and owner of some of the world’s most popular social media applications and services, including WhatsApp, Facebook, and Threads. Apart from its social media ventures, it holds significant assets and investments in artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, and consumer goods electronics.

Initially, a university project conceived by Mark Zuckerberg to connect Harvard students in a digital “face book”, the platform quickly rose in prominence. What is today Meta Platforms started as TheFacebook in 2004 (rebranded as Facebook in 2005). Facebook, Inc. went public through an IPO on January 1, 2012.

The Facebook company was rebranded as Meta in 2021. The change broadened the company’s scope beyond the popular website and reflected its aims to initiate and engage in “Internet 3.0” or Web3. Meta’s ambitions include going “beyond the physical world of social media,” and it intends to achieve it through virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, and blockchain technology. Despite its futuristic goals, the company’s primary source of revenue (97.8% in 2023) remains social media advertising.

Recommended video: Introducing Meta

Source: Meta YouTube

Meta Platforms’ stock is a component of the Nasdaq-100, S&P 100, and S&P 500 indices. It trades on the NASDAQ under the META ticker.

Who is the real owner of WhatsApp?

Meta Platforms itself is a publicly traded company, which means that no single individual or group owns it entirely. However, there are individuals and groups with a notable stake, primarily Mark Zuckerberg, its founder and CEO.

Besides Zuckerberg, there are several individual insider shareholders with a substantial number of Meta shares. These include Michael Schroepfer and David Fischer.

Regarding institutional shareholders, Meta Platforms is a multinational giant with thousands of companies acquiring its stock. However, the top three include Vanguard Group, BlackRock (NYSE: BLK), and Fidelity Investments (formerly FMR).

Largest individual insider shareholders

Individual insider shareholders represent people with direct ownership of the company’s stock, or those who own WhatsApp (through stakes in its parent company). Whenever an insider buys or sells a considerable number of a company’s shares, they are required to fill out and submit an SEC Form 4.

Mark Zuckerberg

Mark Zuckerberg is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Meta Platforms. With his incredible net worth of $173.5 billion, he is the fourth-richest person in the world. Virtually all of his wealth is derived from his position in Meta. He owns 349,200,895 shares of the company or 13.6% of its commonly held stock.

Mark Zuckerberg
Mark Zuckerberg, the founder, chairman, and CEO of Meta

Zuckerberg launched Facebook together with his roommates in 2004. What started as a Harvard-limited college campus project reached its first billion users in 2012. Zuckerberg received the title of the youngest self-made billionaire at age 23 in 2007. He was included in Time’s list of most influential people in the world four times and earned its title of the Person of the Year in 2010. He is commonly associated with Facebook and Meta Platforms and remains the company’s leading character. 

Michael Schroepfer

According to information from the latest SEC Form 4, Michael Schroepfer owns 630,612 shares in Meta Platforms, the owner of WhatsApp, or about 0.02% of the company’s total shares.

Mike Schroepfer joined Facebook (now Meta Platforms) in 2008 and became Chief Technology Officer (CTO) in 2013. He held the title until 2022 when he stepped down to remain a Senior Fellow. Prior to his Facebook job, he was vice president of engineering at Mozilla Corporation.

David Fischer

Although far smaller than the stakes of Zuckerberg and Schroepfer (less than 0.01% of META shares), Fischer still holds a considerable amount, or 36,272 Meta shares

David Fischer joined Facebook in 2010 and occupied the role of Meta’s Chief Revenue Officer until November 2021. Before this, he was the vice president of Global Online Sales and Operations at Google (NASDAQ: GOOG).

Largest Institutional Shareholders

As per Yahoo Finance’s research, institutional investors hold about 79.65% of Meta’s total shares, and there are 4,716 various institutions holding a non-negligible number of shares. The three largest among them are Vanguard Group, BlackRock, and Fidelity Investments.

Institutional shareholder Shares held % of total shares
Vanguard Group, Inc. 186,349,346 8.47%
BlackRock, Inc. 157,506,624 7.16%
Fidelity Investments 133,692,511 6.08%
Who owns WhatsApp: The company’s largest institutional shareholders as of April 4, 2024

Vanguard Group

Vanguard Group, Inc. owns 186,349,346 shares, which is a position of 8.47% of total META shares, according to an SEC report on December 30, 2023.

Vanguard is one of the world’s leading investment companies and mutual fund and ETF managers, managing about $8.6 trillion in global assets as of 2024. META’s position with the investor’s portfolio was the 6th largest holding, with 1.44% of Vanguard’s total assets being comprised of Meta’s stock.


BlackRock, Inc. (NYSE: BLK) holds 157,506,624 shares of Meta Platforms, or 7.16% of all shares, as mentioned in its Q4 2023 SEC filings.

BlackRock is the world’s largest investment company and asset manager, with $10 trillion in assets under management at the end of 2023. Based in New York City, it maintains offices around the world and operates in over 100 countries. Besides Vanguard and State Street, it is a member of the Big Three index fund managers.

Fidelity Investments

The second highest institutional stake is that of Fidelity Investments, rebranded from Fidelity Management & Research (FMR), which holds 133,692,511 shares of Meta, or 6.08% of the company’s shares, according to the most recent SEC report.

Fidelity Investments is a multinational financial services company headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. Its assets under management amount to $4.9 trillion, and it holds $12.6 trillion in assets under administration. Fidelity Investments operates a brokerage firm, manages mutual funds, and provides various business and investing services. 

Meta’s stock performance

As we previously covered, Meta has skyrocketed more than 400% since October 2022, when its stock was priced at meager $88.

Proving the public’s skepticism over its focus on Metaverse wrong, Meta Platforms performed well in 2023 but achieved formidable financial success in early 2024. In fact, its stock surged to become the second-best performing S&P 500 index component, trailing behind Nvidia (NASDAQ: NVDA) only.

Meta’s last 2023 earnings report reassured investors. The company went beyond Wall Street expectations by almost $1 billion to report $40.1 billion, which was a 25% year-to-year hike. Also, Meta introduced a quarterly dividend of $0.50 per share, which few could expect from one of the Big Five American tech companies. 

Meta stock price today

As of publication, Meta stock price stands at $497.37, which represents a 41.57% year-to-date increase.

Who owns WhatsApp – the bottom line

Many doubted Zuckerberg’s decision to acquire WhatsApp, but the app has been the most successful instant messaging service in the world for almost a decade today. The app remains an essential part of Meta Platform’s portfolio.

As the app is owned by Meta, the owners of the company are indirectly the owners of WhatsApp. Therefore, we can name Mark Zuckerberg as the person with the largest “ownership” part of WhatsApp, followed by his colleagues Schroepfer and Fischer and institutional shareholders: Vanguard, BlackRock, and Fidelity Investments.

In fact, by investing in Meta, you can also become a partial owner of WhatsApp. Whether that’s the right investing move, however, depends on a number of factors. Always do your own research before investing.

Disclaimer: The content on this site should not be considered investment advice. Investing is speculative. When investing, your capital is at risk.

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