Finweek English Edition - - TECHNOLOGY -

The names Brian Ac­ton and Jan Koum prob­a­bly aren’t fa­mil­iar to you but you’ll no doubt have heard of their busi­ness named What­sApp. The pop­u­lar in­stant mes­sag­ing app for phones has taken the world by storm with al­most half a bil­lion users, pre­dom­i­nantly in Europe and emerg­ing mar­kets. Last week Face­book an­nounced its ac­qui­si­tion of What­sApp in a record­break­ing $19bn deal, of which the pur­chase price of What­sApp is 16bn. On what planet is a sim­ple app that en­ables people to mes­sage each other worth that much? Ours, ap­par­ently. Here’s why...

What Koum and Ac­ton re­alised is that the stran­gle­hold that tele­coms oper­a­tors have on ser­vices like mes­sag­ing has to come to an end. That, along with the rise of app stores where any­one can sell soft­ware for any­thing, meant that the fu­ture would be­long to niche ap­plica-

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