Today with the advent of technology, texting has fast replaced other means of communication like calls and emails for us to communicate instantly with people miles apart, even in different time zones.
When it comes to texting apps, the first name that comes to mind is WhatsApp. In fact, it is the most preferred messenger app in the world today.
Be it jokes, videos, documents, images or messages WhatsApp sends it all. Today we bring you the story of Jan Koum, the co-founder of WhatsApp messenger.
Such stories of entrepreneurs who solved a common need yet impactful one are covered on Eureka moment. To watch more videos about people subscribe to Eureka moments and dont forget to press the bell icon.
Jan Koum lived in dire poverty with his mother and grandmother. To put an end to their miseries, they moved from Soviet Ukraine to California in the US.
While working odd jobs he worked hard to train himself in computer networking. During this time Jon Koum fell in love with his Nokia phone 6610 that he hacked and downloaded all advance software that you usually couldn’t use on the phone out-of-the-box.
This was a clear indication of his brilliance and innovation. Later, he got an opportunity to work for Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer. Jan Koum was at Yahoo for 9 years along with his future co-founder of WhatsApp Brian Acton.
Coincidently they both quit Yahoo in 2007 and took a year off for themselves.
During his time off Jon traveled to Argentina, Russia, Ukraine and a bunch of other countries.
He found that it was very hard for him to connect with his friends. Koum was annoyed when he was missed a lot of calls when he was at the gym.
He along with Brian Acton decided to solve the problem in 2009 by building an app that would let their friends know if they are available or occupied with something.
They initially came up with a product that had an easy-to-use feature called ‘status’, which could inform other users about one’s availability to take a call.
In the initial stages, the technology of Whatsapp was developed to sync with the contact list to detect if the other person was on a WhatsApp network.
The idea was before you start a phone call you could check the status of this person from Whatsapp and they would indicate that they are available and then the call would be placed. However, this first version did not do well.
But Jon and Brian continued developing the product, they thought they should build messaging. This idea clicked since everyone used SMS for primary communication. The issue with SMS was that the messages were not threaded. An SMS from the same person would show up as another entry on your phone.
This was the Eureka Moment that completely changed the application and took it to new heights. The WhatsApp team worked on one-on-one threaded messages and later they added visual indicators to show whether it was delivered or not.
They wanted their server to be ad-free, satisfying for the user and maintain the privacy of the user. Delivering just that, WhatsApp set on the path of global domination with over 1.5 billion active users in over 180 countries.
Jan Koum says that he was fortunate in a way that they stumbled onto something that people really want.
Jan has faced his fair share of rejections along the journey including being denied jobs at Facebook, a company that later bought Whatsapp for a whopping 19 Billion dollars.
It has such a high valuation because WhatsApp has truly changed the lives of people.