What's the secret of a fast growing messaging start-up? David Rowan, WIRED (UK) interviews Jan Koum, Co-Founder & CEO of WhatsApp.
WhatsApp is a messenger App you'll find on most of the smartphones worldwide. As David visited their unmarked office one month ago in the Silicon Valley, WhatsApp had 400 millions active users and 60 billions messages are recognized on a daily base. Today Jan tells us WhatsApp has now 430 millions active users, another 30 millions on top compared to David's visit a month ago - more than 30 millions of them are German users.
WhatsApp is not only fast growing, it also has a high amount of engineers and customer support employees for the different languages all around the world. This is a user-centered approach for a pure messenger experience. No third party advertisers or games will help to make money.
"We are making money", Jan tells us, but WhatsApp is not focussing on monetization. It's build around people where every single message counts. That's why the users have to pay an annual fee, but not for the download. People should pay for a product they like and use, not for anything else. Make money out of WhatsApp? Maybe 2016, 2018, ... or 2020.
Jan don't feel a pressure to sell WhatsApp. He wanted to build something sustainable, a company here to stay for a long time. As an immigrant coming from the communist country Ukraine (as part of the Soviet Union) he didn't know advertising. This maybe shaped his idea of an advertising free app as well as being away from family and friends, Jan wants to stay in touch with them without expensive fees for messaging.
Is WhatsApp a target for the NSA, David asks. How do they protect their users? Jan explains the philosophy of WhatsApp: "We don't collect personal data", only the phone number is known and messages are not stored on the servers, this all is part of the user experience. He explains why they are thinking like that - he just saw the movie "The Life of Others" on a plane again and it reminds him of his parents' life. No user should be treated like that, WhatsApp is focussing on messaging not on collecting data.