Bil­lions

So­cial net­work­ing gi­ant Face­book re­cently ac­quired in­stant mes­sen­ger The ques­tion is why would any­one at­tach that much money to it?

Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY -

tions and ser­vices that do one thing and do it bet­ter than any­one else. If you want to make money in this space, you fo­cus. Try­ing to in­clude ev­ery fea­ture un­der the sun is sui­cide. What­sApp sim­ply sends mes­sages and it does it re­ally well.

Koum, now 37, was born in Kiev in the Ukraine and im­mi­grated to the US with his mother at the age of 16. Koum ended up work­ing in Ya­hoo!’s ad­ver­tis­ing di­vi­sion and it was here that he met Ac­ton, who was the 44th em­ployee at the In­ter­net com­pany. Work­ing at Ya­hoo! and in ad­ver­tis­ing bred a dis­dain for the mar­ket­ing in­dus­try in the two. Ac­ton told Forbes: “Deal­ing with ads is de­press­ing... You don’t make any­one’s life bet­ter by mak­ing ad­ver­tise­ments work bet­ter.”

When Koum had the idea for an app where you could leave people a mes­sage telling them what you were up to – es­sen­tially set­ting a sta­tus on your phone – he de­cided to call it What­sApp, which sounds like the phrase ‘what’s up’. He un­in­ten­tion­ally ended up turn­ing What­sApp into an in­stant mes­sen­ger and in­cluded Ac­ton in the ven­ture. The two made a com­mit­ment that they would never sell ads in their ser­vice, which is one of things users love about What­sApp. In­stead they de­cided to make What­sApp free at first and avail­able via a tiny an­nual sub­scrip­tion fee later.

The ser­vice is ubiq­ui­tous and be­came a tar­get for Face­book CEO Mark Zucker­berg. Face­book is pumped up on pub­lic in­vest­ment.

What­sApp is headed for 2bn users and a dis­in­ter­me­di­a­tion of SMS mes­sag­ing – es­pe­cially for in­ter­na­tional mes­sag­ing. The com­pany has an­nounced plans to launch voice call­ing over the What­sApp net­work in the com­ing months.

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