WhatsApp is the most popular chat app for smartphones. In today’s world when the position of application keeps changing on the popularity chart of apps, WhatsApp remains in the top positions since its start. The user base of WhatsApp has gone beyond half a billion and still many new users install it daily on their devices.
We all have WhatsApp on our phones and we prefer it to send text, photos, and videos to our friends and loved ones. But have you ever see any advertisement on or for WhatsApp? Well, I haven’t seen any ever because WhatsApp never made any advertisement. Isn’t this surprising that without any advertisement WhatsApp became so successful that it became as common in all smartphones as their OS!
There are many questions which usually people google or ask about the success story of WhatsApp. Like WhatsApp is successful but who made it so? What the challenges WhatsApp faced in its early days? How an idea of creating a messaging app converted into reality?
Here I compiled the answers to all the questions at one place. All the answers to your questions related to WhatsApp, you can find in its success story. The success story of WhatsApp is very motivating. So here it is.
The story behind the success of WhatsApp
WhatsApp was the mind child of two former Yahoo employees, Jan Koum and Brian Acton. Their innovation ‘WhatsApp’ has made many people addicted to it. They both worked together for almost 9 years at Yahoo.
Jan Koum and Brian Acton, both bid goodbye to their jobs to travel around but when their savings started sinking they applied in Facebook to get a job but saw no luck. This made them very disappointed. Brian Acton tweeted his feeling through this tweet, “Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.”
No one knows that the next adventure of his life was going to be a life changer.
How the seeds of WhatsApp were sown
The idea of creating WhatsApp came into Koum’s mind in 2009 when he bought an iPhone. In 2009, the app store of iPhone was just a few months old and Koum saw a new industry of app creation. The app store of iPhone gave Koum an idea of creating a hassle-free instant messaging app. From here the seeds of WhatsApp were sown.
Now the idea of a new messaging app became clear to Koum. He discussed his plan with his friend and partner Acton. Koum wanted to develop a messaging app where users can put their statues next to their names. These status would also show if the person is available, away, etc.
To develop an app for iPhone, Koum needed an frontend developer because Koum could program only the backend part of the app. So to work on the frontend of the app he hired a Russian developer from a freelancing site.
The reactions of the first few WhatsApp users
After a month, Koum demoed his app to his friends. Koum named his app as ‘WhatsApp’. None of his friends adopt it. Koum was very disappointed with the feedbacks. He knew that there were issues with WhatsApp that time like battery draining etc. Because of the fear of failure, Koum now wanted to look for a job. At this point, his friend Acton motivated him and suggested him to work harder on his product.
In June 2009 apple launched Push notification. Now few of Koum’s friends started using WhatsApp and they find it funny because when one of them changes his status, everyone gets the information about it. This made Koum more confident about his product.
In the fall of October 2009, Acton contacted many of his ex-colleagues of yahoo and raised a fund of approx 250,000 Dollars as a seed funding of WhatsApp. By this Acton got the title of Co-founder of the company and he received shares of the company.
Teamwork of Koum and Acton in WhatsApp
The teamwork of Koum and Acton is the main ingredient of the recipe for WhatsApp’s success. Koum and Acton both wanted to make WhatsApp advertisement free. They wanted their product to be different yet simple. Koum and Acton never ran for fame.
In business, Koum was the CEO and Acton was responsible to get the things done. Koum looked at the product and Acton focused on finance. Both of them work with different mindsets this made their product successful.
The early Staff of WhatsApp
WhatsApp, being one of the fastest growing apps, doesn’t have a big team. It started with two and in 2014, WhatsApp had a total 55 people as its staff. Its 32 people were into the engineering department and rest were into customer support. The earliest employees of WhatsApp were ex Yahooears, just like the founder and co-founder of the company.
Igor Solomennikov is among the few very first employees of WhatsApp. He is still associated with WhatsApp. Chris Peiffer, one old of the friend of Koum was hired by WhatsApp in 2009 to build blackberry version of WhatsApp. Michael Donohue, Bryan O’Connor, Kevin Christensen, and Rick Reed are just a few names who are still associated with WhatsApp.
The strategy of WhatsApp for success
Koum and Acton both share a common passion and that was their hate for advertisement. So they decided to keep WhatsApp free from advertisement. Koum even has a note from Acton on his desk saying “No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks”. This strategy made WhatsApp more user-friendly. Suppose you are in conversation with one of your friend and suddenly an ad pops up! How will you feel? Irritated right? So this worked. People loved it.
Both the founder and co-founder of WhatsApp had worked with Yahoo and knew the game of Ads very well. They knew that it is a way to generate revenue. But they didn’t follow it. To raise the funds Koum and Acton decided to charge money from users. They charged iPhone users on the first-time installation and Android users every year. The numbers of WhatsApp users were so high even at that time, Koum and Acton had raised good revenue from their app.
Acquisition by Facebook
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014. It is the largest acquisition by Facebook and the biggest one so far in the technology field. When Facebook announced to acquire WhatsApp in February 2014, WhatsApp team demands $16 billion: $4 billion in cash and $12 billion remaining in Facebook shares. Later on, Facebook paid $19.6 billion. Facebook added $3.6 billion to the original price as compensation to WhatsApp employees for staying on board with Facebook.
This was a huge amount that the core team of WhatsApp got. The founder and co-founder both became rich and they proudly share their experiences and story of their success to motivate others.
Zuckerberg spent one-tenth of his company’s market value to buy the text messaging app. Facebook almost pay double of the google’s bid to WhatsApp. Now, one question may arise in your mind that why Facebook acquired WhatsApp? The reason behind the biggest acquisition so far is the growth of WhatsApp. Facebook understood its way to enter mobile market, and the number of users Whatsapp can have in future, the power of user engagement, and chances of monetization, are other factors they might have though about.
The bottom line
So in the end, if I need to conclude the success story of WhatsApp, I must admit that both Koum and Acton took a risk of starting a startup and that worked very well for them. Instead, to run after money by allowing ads to be flashed on the user’s mobile screen, the WhatsApp team gave preference to their users and they made their app easy to use, which customer love till date.