How WhatsApp comes from a simple idea and bought by Facebook

The history of WhatsApp, like the rest of Internet services that have achieved success, comes from a simple idea almost from necessity. And it is far from being the master plan and calculated it may seem, it is the learning experience and stepping Jan Koum, its main creator. A tool that exceeds 450 million users per month and that after its purchase by Facebook at 19 billion dollars could still have a long stretch of success to a billion users.

But its origins are much humbler. Because of its creator, who was born and raised in a town of Kiev, Ukraine. With only 16 year Koum and his mother had to flee for their lives and anti-Semitic political problems of the region, migrating to Mountain View, California, and leaving behind his father who died there in 1997.

His life in America was made possible by government subsidies and work both mother and own Koum, who started sweeping floors at a grocery store. But the personal story of the creator of WhatsApp still kept him serious setbacks such as cancer of his mother. But while studying computer science through books he rented in a thrift store. Something that led him to be joins the San Jose State University and gets a job as security tester Ernest & Young.

In 1997, before finishing his studies, he was working in Yahoo Company, where he met the man who later became the founder of WhatsApp. Shortly after his studies would focus on his work in this company, where he gets a job as engineer infrastructure, and nine years where he worked closely with Acton. After the death of the mother of Koum, supported by Acton lead them to forge a great friendship over the years of work and the ups and downs of the company where they worked.

After the boom of the dotcom in 2000, both partners go on to work in the advertising campaigns of Yahoo, discovering in its words. After the emotional exhaustion of a job that did not satisfy them, they decided to leave the company in 2007 to take a year of disconnection. After trying to get to work on Facebook and be rejected, Koum saw that their economic situation was hanging by a thread, surviving with the savings of his years in Yahoo. But from 2009 the inspiration comes to life through an iPhone. After buying this terminal Koum realize the potential of applications and start thinking about a project for a tool. The germ of what would WhatsApp.


The initial idea of this application would be to associate the phrase phonebook or state to indicate the user’s situation. A tool that was christened WhatsApp from its origin to its proximity to the Anglo-Saxon expression “What’s Up” (What?). Soon after, in 2009, Koum discovered that his application was being used to exchange messages through these state sentences thanks to push notifications introduced by Apple in iOS. The key point of this initial version of WhatsApp is that the registration method was through the telephone. Something distinguished him from BlackBerry Messenger, which was exclusive to terminals RIM, or Google G-Talk or Skype. A tool that left behind the archaic world of SMS that began to resemble Fax after generalizing emails.

After releasing version of WhatsApp messaging centric and not the states, its users grew rapidly to 250,000. Given this potential Koum decided to turn to his old friend Brian Acton to suggest a business, still unemployed

From this point the evolution could not stop. Soon their email boxes filled with messages asking users to use WhatsApp with other terminal users Nokia and BlackBerry. They needed more people to develop more applications for other platforms and give them a workplace. So they found a part of a building where another company was already working. It was nothing more and nothing less than Evernote with whom they have shared space. A curious point since WhatsApp has never appeared on billboards and signs, being the benchmark of its location the back door of the building Evernote .

Gradually they grew and developed new versions of the application, searching for ways to fund this project avoiding advertising. And it should get the money to keep the message service account confirmation SMS text, in addition to paying developers and engineers. However, thanks to investments and payment system WhatsApp managed to face the expenses occurred. From this time the history of WhatsApp is better known, with an increasing number of users and a fame that comes from the mouth to ear and not through advertisements.

It is an application has grown large enough and has a viral factor that can attract the attention of other companies like Facebook, who has paid (including cash and stock) 19 billion dollars to be made with this tool.

Both brand WhatsApp as its operation is independent of the social network. And it Koum Acton and have always been very clear the kind of service they wanted to offer its users, although this service, originally, were based on a simple way to show states . Meanwhile Koum becomes part of the board of Facebook. A deal that would close the evening of Valentine’s Day, when Koum came home from Mark Zuckerberg to finalize the agreement with a bowl of strawberries and chocolate under his arm.


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