From ZERO to $22 Billion – How Whatsapp Soared To The Top

The ever-popular Whatsapp messaging app, founded by Jan Koum and Brian Acton is one of the many legendary tales of a company’s rise from adversity to billions. Whatsapp is the worldwide go-to for cost-free messaging and was acquired by Facebook for $22 billion.



So what fueled Whatsapp’s uncanny growth and made it one of the highest profiting companies in the tech industry?

1. Do one thing and do it well
Whatsapp has stressed the importance of focus from the very start. In a recent Wired Magazine feature, Koum explains: “People ask for a desktop version, for user names — but we focus on the utility of the app, its simplicity, the quality of the service. Ads, games, gimmicks — that stuff gets in the way. We don’t want to build a hookup app so you can find someone weird to talk to. It’s not what we’re about. We’re about your intimate relationships.” 

2. Embrace rejection
Before Koum and Acton founded Whatsapp, they had applied to positions at Facebook and Twitter to only be rejected. Nevertheless, such setbacks never deterred them from moving forward with their own ideas. A few years later they were acquired by the very company that previously closed off any career opportunities to them. 

3. Dream big but stay small
Many start-ups, after acquiring funding, will drastically grow the company to scale it. When Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook, the company had a modest team of 55 employees, 32 of whom were engineers. This approach has worked to their advantage because it enabled them to build a robust and efficient platform that can process 50 billion messages daily across 7 key platforms. Instead of wasting expenditures on unnecessarily growing the company workforce,  Whatsapp’s focus on building a remarkable product and user experience has boded quite well. 

4. Marketing isn’t everything
Whatsapp has repeatedly steered clear of any advertising and vehemently rejects any possibility of pursuing such revenue-building models. Because they created an app that solved a problem for millions of users worldwide, they organically gained a mass following and were able to penetrate global markets at an unprecedented rate.

5. Differentiate yourself 
Koum has expressly stated that Whatsapp’s model will always be fundamentally different from other major platforms such as Yahoo! and Facebook. While such companies collect user data and have it sitting on their servers, Whatsapp doesn’t require a name gender information and was designed to be as anonymous as possible. Because the company is not ad-driven, it does not require a user database and helps Whatsapp to maintain its commitment to privacy and data safeguarding measures.