Company WhatsApp Inc. was founded by Jan Koum (Jan Koum) and Brian Acton (Brian Acton) in 2009. Soon after the App Store became available for download the first version of the WhatsApp messenger, which has become easy and affordable analog SMS and MMS.
At the initial stage of development with room and Acton avoided outside investors, fearing that they may require a monetization of the project through the sale of advertising. In April 2011 WhatsApp Inc. took $8 million from venture capital Fund Sequoia Capital, but with a condition: no advertising in the app. In 2013, when the messenger has already gathered an impressive audience, Sequoia Capital allocated another $50 million In February 2014 Facebook bought WhatsApp Inc. for $19 billion.
Graph showing the increase in the number of active accounts messenger in the first four years after launch. But as increased the average daily number of sent via WhatsApp messages in the period from 2011 to 2014 (in billion). In February 2016, the founders of WhatsApp announced the reach 1 000 000 000 users.
Of course, Jan Kum has the right to be the father of WhatsApp. It Kum came up with the name of the company, in tune with “What’s Up?”, and registered it. However, don’t underestimate the role of Brian Acton. It was Acton did not allow the project to be completed, so plainly the Bud.
The fact that WhatsApp has not always been the messenger. At the start of the application is an address book with a status display. In theory, the project seemed promising, but in reality, things went from bad to worse. At some point, Kum Yang began to think about how to drop everything and start looking for work, and as reported to her partner. Brian Acton then said to Kum:
“You’re an idiot if you give up now. Give the project a couple of months.”
Acton was absolutely right. Soon Apple introduced push notifications system, and the godfather immediately added this feature to the app. Now when the user changed its status in WhatsApp, the contacts immediately received a notification. That not expecting, the godfather reincarnated pager. Users had to like it, and the audience quickly WhatsApp crossed the mark of 250 000 people.
The WhatsApp Philosophy
It should be noted that Kum and Acton have become partners is not a happy coincidence. These two people were United by one feature — the absolute rejection of “tricks, dirty tricks and other nonsense”. A comprehensive description of their ideology easily fit on a notebook sheet which Acton somehow attached to the table his partner and friend:
“No ads! No games! No gimmicks!”
Subsequently, the founder of WhatsApp commented on the fundamental shift away from in-app advertising:
“In my opinion, a mobile phone is a too personal device. When you receive a message from a loved one or friend, you want to answer immediately. And you absolutely do not want to be distracted by advertising. Demonstration of commercial ads in such situations seemed to me absolutely unacceptable.”
WhatsApp not only did not place ads in your app but also did not spend money on attracting an audience. Kum and Acton decided to focus on creating an attractive product and relied on organic growth.
Given the serious competition in the market (in Botswana alone, for example, at the time there were 16 messengers), such a decision seemed too presumptuous. But the founders of WhatsApp continued to bend the line.
Another fun fact: at the time of conclusion of the deal with Facebook for $19 billion in the state of WhatsApp had 55 employees (32 of whom are engineers).
An important success factor was the ability to use the applications even on outdated models of mobile devices with a weak operating system.
WhatsApp as an alternative to SMS and MMS
Despite the fact that the original idea of Kuma not assumed competition with mobile operators, the popularity of text messages among users has led to a shift in emphasis.
People who are tired to satisfy the growing appetite of mobile operators, willing to endured your conversations in WhatsApp, which offered free service within the first year and requested only $0.99 for each year thereafter. Among the younger audience, a particular success was a function of creating conversation simultaneously with several people.
The transition from sending messages via the mobile operator to use WhatsApp was as painless as possible: it was enough just to transfer your contacts to the app. The more simple onboarding-the process is difficult to imagine.
However, the key to the hearts of users become not functionality and low maintenance cost, and cross-platform application. Using WhatsApp you can send a message to the subscriber from any country using the device with any operating system.
The possibility of using apps on older models of phones contributed to the intensive growth of the audience of WhatsApp in emerging markets. Today, the company boasts a truly global reach. People from different cities, countries, and continents every day, launch the app to communicate with family, friends or colleagues.
For Facebook, almost exhausted resources to build audiences in the USA, Canada and much of Europe, WhatsApp, you might say, “probes” new sources of traffic.
WhatsApp does not collect personal information: name, gender, age, and address of the user. Registration requires only a phone number to remember your login and password. After delivery to the addressee, messages are deleted from servers.
The absence of an advertising budget as such does not interfere with WhatsApp to be the center of attention in the popular media. The company just discussing because it’s interesting. The deal with Facebook was forced to talk about the application, almost all the media.
However, according to Jan Kuma, excessive hype only gets people to focus on the product. Kum convinced that the really valuable product does not need additional advertising, in addition to that make him happy visitors who share an experience with their friends.
If a user downloads messenger and sees that his inner circle service was established only a few people, it is very likely they will refuse to use. However, if the user sees that a significant part of his friends already here, he almost certainly will remain.
In this case, it is the same law that in the world of social networks: the larger the audience, the easier it is to build.
The founders of WhatsApp was able to fully enjoy all the power of network effects, allowing their application in the short term to become a part of everyday life for millions of people around the globe.
In 2012, when Facebook bought Instagram for $1 000 000 000, a platform for sharing photos had 30 million users. Over the next three months, the audience of Instagram has increased to 80 million people.
Similarly, the deal Facebook and WhatsApp let messenger to for 25 million new users per month.
The purchase of WhatsApp by Mark Zuckerberg’s Empire led to the emergence of rumors that the application will begin spying on users, collecting their personal data. However, Jan Kum has categorically denied these suspicions, stating that “respect for private life encoded in the DNA of WhatsApp” and people have nothing to worry about.
Pass in just five years, the path from idea to sales of the company for $19 billion, relying on organic growth — it is an undoubted success. In essence, the story of WhatsApp is now worthy of inclusion in textbooks on non-trivial marketing. However, the company’s founders are determined to continue to write this story so that people from different corners of the globe could be closer to each other.