Texting has its limits, but WhatApp breaks many of them down.
This free messenger application provides Voice over IP (VoIP), messaging across platforms, video chat, and content communication services. People can use the app to share locations, images, documents, videos, and more. The service can be used essentially to replace phone services, but unlike the limitations of phone service, WhatsApp services can cross international borders where phone services cannot. Users provide a cell phone number in order to register but can use the app over wifi or with cellular data.
South American Holiday
Jan Koum and Brian Acton worked for Yahoo before striking out on their own. The two took a trip to South America together where they brainstormed ideas for what should come next. When they realized the potential for app development, they started working on applications that could serve a niche. What they happened upon was the idea of WhatsApp, which is inspired by the phrase “what’s up”.
The development of the application was fraught with frustration. Throughout the development process in 2009 in San Jose, California, the app crashed repeatedly. The team almost gave up before finishing its development but stayed the course. They brought in developers from diverse backgrounds to support the launch of the application. WhatsApp went live August of 2009, thanks to a quarter-million dollars in seed money.
Within two years of its launch, WhatsApp was one of the top twenty applications in Apple’s Appstore. Sequoia Capital invested eight million dollars into the service to continue its development and expansion in 2011. By 2013, Sequoia had expanded its investment to an additional fifty million. By the end of that year, WhatsApp was worth one and a half-billion dollars.
In 2014, Facebook announced that it would buy out WhatsApp for nineteen billion dollars. This represented the largest acquisition that Facebook had made to date. Sequoia Capital got a five thousand percent return on its investment in WhatsApp.
WhatsApp remained a separate platform from Facebook, with the original leadership team staying on as well to guide the growth of the company. The separation of the companies was a critical hurdle in the merger of the two companies per antitrust legislation.
Facebook’s investment turned out to be a wise one. Later that same year, WhatsApp was the world’s most popular messaging service with four hundred million users each day. Two years later, that daily usage number had gotten to one billion.
In 2017, Facebook was admonished by the European Commission with a fine of one hundred and ten million euros for misleading information during the buy out of WhatsApp. This was because Facebook and WhatsApp had shared user information after previously asserting that this was impossible. Facebook maintained its innocence, saying that it had not intended to be misleading but that it had used WhatsApp information for targeted Facebook advertisements.
WhatsApp has continued to expand its model and increase its profitability. It ceased charging a one-dollar monthly fee for its service in 2016.
The application has moved beyond communication to dealing with payments and other additional endeavors. WhatsApp Payments allow peer-to-peer payments between users for a nominal fee. WhatsApp Cryptocurrency is set to be Facebook’s answer to Bitcoin.
With more than ten years in business and a constant expansion of services and functionality, WhatsApp is one of the hottest apps in the world.