WhatsApp founder Jan Koum vows it “won’t change” despite Facebook acquisition ahead of voice product rollout
WhatsApp founder and CEO Jan Koum has promised its mission won’t change and that it will remain independently run following its $19bn acquisition by Facebook.
Speaking during a keynote session at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this morning, Koum said the fundamental values of the two companies are “aligned”, with both on a “mission” to make the world more connected.
Koum also revealed that the messaging app will launch a voice version in the second quarter of this year. The service will initially roll out on iOS and Android devices, followed by Windows and Blackberry devices.
“Five years ago we had no users, no revenue and no product – only a prototype – and that prototype sucked. But we were passionate about building a product and we wanted to build one with specific values – be simple to use, intuitive, fast and always work, and to connect people.
“It was important for us to build a product not cluttered by gimmicks or promotions and be part of mission to build something to connect people. It is because of those values today we have 465 million monthly active users. Almost one third of a billion people use our product today to stay in touch. We promise not to change and to continue to build what is important to us – using the philosophy of using a product to help people connect,” he said.
Koum revealed that the original mission to create a product like WhatsApp was inspired from his childhood experiences in Russia.
“I grew up in Russia – or the USSR – which doesn’t exist anymore, but in a communist regime. My family luckily had a telephone line but many of my friends and neighbours didn’t. Therefore our phone became a shared resource for whole apartment complex. We are driven by mission to ensure people can stay in touch and to ensure that doesn’t happen to anyone else,” said Koum.
He added that the app has never run any marketing or advertising of any sort, and that this will continue to be the case despite its acquisition by Facebook, but rather that the two companies share common goals and values.