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Entrepreneur, Mobile


Hey there Whatsapp addicts, come on get off your phones and pay attention because if there’s anyone you have to thank for the ad free and actually free messaging you enjoy everyday, its these guys – Brian Acton and Jan Koum and why should you pay attention to their story…scroll ahead and see for yourself.


Age is just a number

No its not just a saying, you’ve heard enough stories about glamorous college dropouts who turned out to be Silicon Valley Whiz kids right? Well this story is a little different, to start off – these guys are a tad bit older than your normal start up  genius and have experienced what its like to work with the creme de la creme of the tech business like Yahoo (incidentally also the place they met)and quit when they got sick of the ad centered user experience. So seriously stop giving the ‘I’m too old to’ excuse and  get started on the thing you love  cause Acton and Koum both didn’t let their forties stop them.


Rejection is good

If you’re lamenting on losing out on that 100% pay hike job…you’re in the right place, Brian Acton was rejected by Facebook in 2009 and apparently by Twitter as well and we all know the second half of the drama. He’s the same guy who created Facebook’s latest 19 billion$ baby…and if you’re starting to think this amazing idea had dozens of takers immediately, you’re wrong again. No they didn’t have it easy, they were bypassed by many venture capitalists before they finally secured a deal with Sequoia Capital that now stands to reap millions from the investment.


Rags to Riches – true story 

If you thought Slumdog Millionaire was just a fairytale and it happens only in the movies, let me give you exhibit number one – Jan Koum. He was born in Ukraine and moved to America when he was 16 where he sustained on food stamps collected a couple of blocks away from the unmarked Mountain view office that now houses his company and he didn’t own a computer till he was 19, well you saw the refugee to Richie Rich side, Acton though grew up in Florida with a professional golfer for a stepdad and graduated from Stanford university but it wasn’t all hunky dory for him either, he lost millions when he invested in the dotcom boom of the 2000s and he didn’t let that stop him and neither should you let something like that stop you.


Don’t be afraid to quit

You can’t stand something? I have a solution – QUIT! If there’s something Koum and Acton taught the world, its that being your own boss isn’t so bad after all. Koum quit the San Jose state university because he “hated school anyway”. Acton after successful stints at Adobe and Apple joined Yahoo where they both met and realized they shared their love for frisbee and an aversion to ad targeted user experience and after departing from Yahoo in 2007, they started developing their own app with a small company of 55 employees, about 10 desks and just so you know stained carpets.


Stick to your ideals 

“No Ads, No games, No gimmicks” is the adage these guys live by and the 450 million users of Whatsapp love the fact that they can enjoy uninterrupted messaging service that charges a dollar for a product that is based on knowing as little about you as possible. Growing up in a Soviet controlled country Kaum especially valued privacy and hence does not see the need to collect personal information like your name,gender, address, or age. Yes bid adieu to the frustration of remembering usernames and passwords.


Counter Culture is cool 

For a 19 billion dollar enterprise these guys don’t believe in mainstream ideas like hanging a board outside the firm…nah neither do they believe in advertising, relying instead on word of mouth publicity. They don’t believe in staying active on social media all day long, in fact both of them shun the spotlight. So if you’re thinking about the most atypical deal…you’re probably on the right track.

Images of WhatsApp As Facebook Inc. Makes Acquisition For $19 Billion

Big vs Sustainable

Going Big isn’t the first rule in the book…there’s more to do than just that says Acton who expresses vehemently his dislike for big companies, the Whatsapp founders rather believe in the ‘small is beautiful’ ideal.  Business sustainability and revenue rather than getting big fast is their mantra and if you doubt this is a good thing to you know they went mobile first but they also went global first.


You’ve always got room to grow

To stay in the game you gotta to keep dancing as fast as you can and this for Kaum and Acton includes adding new features that appeal to more people.To that point, WhatsApp just announced that it will add free Internet voice calling to its service — jumping into a realm now dominated by Skype and this is exactly why WhatsApp is  growing at a blinding speed, adding 1 million new users per day. At that rate, WhatsApp should hit 1 billion users sometime next year, after all change is the only constant thing.


Rivals? Bring it on

In recent years, a bevy of messaging apps has fought for global domination, with many boasting a lucrative combination of communications features, online shopping and games.Facebook’s previous target Snapchat was billed as the new picture messaging phenomenon that’d make everything else seem a little too Stone Age, Koum continues to prioritize the pure messaging service he started out with and you can’t deny that their numbers are only growing.

Fight Club (1999) Edward Norton and Brad Pitt (Screengrab)

You need Fight Club Gyan.

Kaum and Acton built their own philosophy influenced by Soviet Russia, the dot-com bust, Kanye West, and most importantly the Fight Club. The famous  line is reprinted atop WhatsApp’s mini-manifesto ” Why we don’t sell ads” is “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need”. So if you haven’t read this epic book or watched this epic movie…you my friend are at a loss.


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