Facebook has failed in a $3 billion (£1.9 billion) bid to buy the fast-growing instant messaging service Snapchat, according to those close to the negotiations.
Citing sources briefed on the matter, The Wall Street Journal claims that Snapchat's 23-year-old co-founder and chief executive Evan Spiegel refused the offer as he is waiting until early next year for the number of users and messages to increase in order to justify an even higher valuation.
The buyout of the self-destructing message app would have been Facebook's largest acquisition to date, eclipsing the $1 billion (£625 million) Instagram deal completed last year.
Launched in September 2011 from Spiegel's father's living room, Snapchat has grown from a class project at Stanford University to one of the largest photo sharing services in the world.
Over 200 million photos are uploaded to Snapchat every day, a rapidly growing number that is expected to soon surpass the 350 million photos uploaded to Facebook each day.
Last December, Facebook launched its own app Poke, designed to rival Snapchat and capitalise on some of its success. Spiegel told The Wall Street Journal that having such a giant enter its space was the "greatest Christmas present we ever got", as its growth continued unabated.
The growth of Snapchat in the last few months alone has been meteoric. Since as recently as June, the company has increased its estimated value ten-fold from an estimated £300 million worth.
In a blogpost at the time, Snapchat said: "Social media is young, growth comes with pains, and we should keep questioning assumptions and push this new media to new limits."