WhatsApp, was incorporated in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum, both former employees of Yahoo!. After Koum and Acton left Yahoo! in September 2007, the duo traveled to South America as a break from work. At one point they applied for jobs at Facebook but were rejected. For the rest of the following years Koum relied on his $400,000 savings from Yahoo!. In January 2009, after purchasing an iPhone and realizing that the App Store would soon create an industry of apps, Koum started visiting his friend Alex Fishman in West San Jose where the three would discuss “… having statuses next to individual names of the people”, but this was not possible without an iPhone developer. Fishman found a Russian developer on RentACoder.com, Igor Solomennikov, and introduced him to Koum. Koum named the app “WhatsApp” to sound like “what’s up”. On February 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. However, because early versions of WhatsApp often crashed or got stuck at a particular point, Koum felt like giving up and looking for a new job, upon which Acton encouraged him to wait for a “few more months”.
In June 2009, Apple launched push notifications, allowing users to be pinged when they were not using an app. Koum changed WhatsApp so that when a user’s status is changed, everyone in the user’s network would be notified. WhatsApp 2.0 was released with a messaging component and the number of active users suddenly increased to 250,000. Acton was still unemployed and managing another startup, and he decided to join the company. In October 2009, Acton persuaded five former friends in Yahoo! to invest $250,000 in seed funding, and Acton became a co-founder and was given a stake. He officially joined on November 1. After months at beta stage, the application eventually launched in November 2009 exclusively on the App Store for the iPhone. Koum then hired a friend who lived in Los Angeles, Chris Peiffer, to develop the BlackBerry version, which arrived two months later.
WhatsApp was switched from a free to paid service to avoid growing too fast, mainly because the primary cost was sending verification texts to users. In December 2009, the ability to send photos was added to WhatsApp for the iPhone. By early 2011, WhatsApp was one of the top 20 apps in Apple’s U.S. App Store.
In April 2011, Sequoia Capital was the only venture investor in WhatsApp and paid approximately $8 million for more than 15 percent of the company, after months of negotiation with Sequoia partner Jim Goetz.
By February 2013, WhatsApp had about 200 million active users and 50 staff members. Sequoia invested another $50 million, and WhatsApp was valued at $1.5 billion.
In a December 2013 blog post, WhatsApp claimed that 400 million active users use the service each month. As of April 22, 2014, WhatsApp had over 500 million monthly active users, 700 million photos and 100 million videos were being shared daily, and the messaging system was handling more than 10 billion messages each day. On August 24, 2014, Koum announced on his Twitter account that WhatsApp had over 600 million active users worldwide. At that point, WhatsApp was adding about 25 million new users every month, or 833,000 active users per day. With 65 million active users representing 10% of the total worldwide users, India has the largest number of consumers.
Facebook era (2014–present)
On February 19, 2014, months after a venture capital financing round at a $1.5 billion valuation, Facebook announced it was acquiring WhatsApp for US$19 billion, its largest acquisition to date. At the time, the acquisition was the largest purchase of a venture-backed company in history. Sequoia Capital received an approximate 50x return on its initial investment. Facebook, which was advised by Allen & Co, paid $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares, and an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units granted to WhatsApp’s founders (advised by Morgan Stanley), Koum and Acton. Employee stock was scheduled to vest over four years subsequent to closing. The transaction was the largest purchase of a company backed by venture capitalists to date. Days after the announcement, WhatsApp users experienced a loss of service, leading to anger across social media.
The acquisition caused a considerable number of users to move, or try out other message services as well. Telegram claimed to have seen 8 million additional downloads of its app. Line claimed to have seen 2 million new users for its service.
At a keynote presentation at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp was closely related to the Internet.org vision. According to a TechCrunch article, Zuckerberg’s vision for Internet.org was as follows: “The idea, he said, is to develop a group of basic internet services that would be free of charge to use – ‘a 911 for the internet.’ These could be a social networking service like Facebook, a messaging service, maybe search and other things like weather. Providing a bundle of these free of charge to users will work like a gateway drug of sorts – users who may be able to afford data services and phones these days just don’t see the point of why they would pay for those data services. This would give them some context for why they are important, and that will lead them to pay for more services like this – or so the hope goes.”
On May 9, 2014, the government of Iran announced that it had proposed to block the access to WhatsApp service to Iranian residents. “The reason for this is the assumption of WhatsApp by the Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who is an American Zionist,” said Abdolsamad Khorramabadi, head of the country’s Committee on Internet Crimes. Subsequently, Iranian president Hassan Rouhani issued an order to the Ministry of ICT to stop filtering WhatsApp.
Just three days after announcing that WhatsApp had been purchased by Facebook, Koum said they were working to introduce voice calls in the coming months. He also advanced that new mobile phones would be sold in Germany with the WhatsApp brand, as their main goal was to be in all smartphones.
In August 2014, WhatsApp was the most globally popular messaging app, with more than 600 million active users. By early January 2015, WhatsApp had 700 million monthly active users with over 30 billion messages being sent every day. In April 2015, Forbes predicted that between 2012 and 2018, the telecommunications industry will lose a combined total of $386 billion because of OTT services like WhatsApp and Skype. That month, WhatsApp had over 800 million active users. By September 2015, the user base had grown to 900 million, and by February 2016 it had grown to one billion.
As of November 30, 2015, the Android client for WhatsApp started making links to another messenger called Telegram unclickable and uncopyable. This is an active block, as confirmed by multiple sources, rather than a bug, and the Android source code which recognizes Telegram URLs has been identified. URLs with “telegram” as domain-name are targeted actively and explicitly – the word “telegram” appears in the code. This functioning risks being considered anti-competitive, and has not been explained by WhatsApp.
On January 18, 2016, WhatsApp’s founder Jan Koum announced that the service would no longer charge their users a $1 annual subscription fee in an effort to remove a barrier faced by some users who do not have a credit card to pay for the service. He also explained that the app would not display any third party advertisement and instead would bring new features such as the ability to communicate with business organizations.
By June 2016, more than 100 million voice calls are made per day on WhatsApp according to a post on the company’s blog.
On November 10 2016, WhatsApp has started rolling out two-step verification feature for users on Android beta. This feature will add more security to your account, officials said. After enabling this feature, users will also get an option to add their email address for further protection.
On February 24, 2017, (WhatsApp’s 8th birthday) WhatsApp launches new Status feature that offering similar to Snapchat
Culled from Wikipedia