The $16 Billion WhatsApp Sale Was Planned Around A Reward Miles Flight

The $16 Billion WhatsApp Sale Was Planned Around A Reward Miles Flight


You’d think that a $16 billion business deal would be a good reason to change your travel plans — after all, what’s it to a billionaire? But according to WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, finalising the Facebook sale was organised around a plane ticket he couldn’t change because it was booked with rewards points.

In an amazing little anecdote on the popular travel forum Flyertalk — uncovered today by Beacon Reader — Koum explains that he had booked his ticket to Mobile Congress Week in Barcelona far in advance using miles. “I prefer to fly using miles when I can to save company money,” he reasons.

But when the deal between WhatsApp and Facebook was announced last week, he realised there was a chance he wouldn’t be able to sign the contract before his flight to Spain departed:

When the risk of the delay became real, I said: “If we don’t get it done on Wednesday, it probably won’t get done. I have tickets on Thursday to fly out to Barcelona which I bought with miles and they are not easily refundable or even possible to change. This has to be done by Wednesday or else!!!”

… And so one of the biggest deals in tech history had to be scheduled around my M&M award ticket 🙂

So while we might have imagined Koum celebrating the deal by driving into a pool of golden coins or swimming around in a vat of Moet, he was actually just trying to avoid getting needled with a Lufthansa change fee. [Beacon]

Lead image: Yu Lan.