Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp has created quite the media buzz. Digging into the historicity of WhatsApp, you’ll find its two co-founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, are not your typical Silicon Valley entrepreneurs.
Koum and Acton built WhatsApp around a simple business model that neglected the use of intrusive advertising. This comes as a polar opposite to the likes of a Facebook, Google, or Yahoo.
Speaking on an ad-based business model, “You don’t want to get in the way of two people communicating,” Mr. Koum said last spring in an interview at WhatsApp’s headquarters in Mountain View.
“Imagine if I said, ‘Let’s stop for a second, let me pull down this slide. Would you like to see a preview of this game?’ ”
Though, Koum offered little reasoning to his previous stance during the Facebook conference call with Mark Zuckerberg. “Facebook is a social network and offers many different and important functionalities than WhatsApp offers as a communication service, and we’re excited to benefit from the unique expertise, knowledge and infrastructure that Mark and the team have built out over the last decade,” Koum said.
It seems that Koum and Zuckerberg do share common ground — to connect everyone in the world using their services.
“We want WhatsApp to be on every single smartphone,” Koum said last month during an onstage interview at the DLD conference in Munich. Koum expects five billion people to be using smartphones within the next decade, and he wants to serve every one.
This is why Koum and Acton have wanted WhatsApp on all mobile platforms, including BlackBerry. According to the New York Times report, Koum and Acton are still BlackBerry users, for which “they both still use for texting.”
Privacy and security has also been a staple-point for the WhatsApp founders, another possible reason for still liking BlackBerry smartphones.
“For us, everything is built around us knowing as little as possible about the user and what they do on our network,” Koum said at the Munich conference.
“I grew up in a country [former Soviet Union] where I remember my parents not being able to have a conversation on the phone,” Koum explained. “The walls had ears and you couldn’t speak freely.”