WhatsApp is truly a success story that started with former Yahoo employees that took an idea and made it into one of the most successful apps for instant messaging in the world. Brian Acton and Jan Koum first met as Yahoo employees and then left the company to pursue a different path. They thought of creating an iPhone app since they saw the potential for mobile and then ran with it.
It didn't take long for them to develop the app in 2009. The name was inspired by Koum and the name has stuck throughout the years. The idea behind the initial development was to create an app that would have a person's status beside his name. The app provides a simple interface with no ads that appeals to users, allowing them to communicate with other WhatsApp users either in groups or individually.
Although the original model failed, the 2 persisted with the project and late in 2009 after a lot of beta testing, the app was launched. It appeared in the iPhone app store and the version for Blackberry was released a couple of months later. In December, the iPhone version was updated to allow users to send photos and in 2010 the Android version was also released.
Both Acton and Koum became millionaires with this app without having to place ads on it. Android users had to pay an annual fee to use the app while iPhone users were required to pay for the initial installation. Many people were willing to pay for this new technology. In 2013 the app was free to install and members only had to pay a $1 annual subscription fee. Voice messaging was also introduced that year.
In February 2014 the app was acquired by Facebook for the purchase price of approximately $19 billion. To date, this was by far Facebook's largest acquisition.
The $1 subscription fee was dropped in early 2016 and a new version becomes available for both Mac and Windows operating systems. Testing also began during the year for a new customer service platform that would be available to businesses.
In February 2018, it was estimated that the WhatsApp user base had reached more than 1.5 billion. This made the app the most popular application for messaging in the world and one of the most popular social platforms on a global level.