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