As businessmen, WhatsApp founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum are doing pretty well for themselves. Since its launch in 2009, the mobile messaging app has garnered 250 million active users amongst Iphone, Blackberry, Android, Nokia and Windows Phone owners. The app has more users than does Twitter (200 million), the social-networking site that launched in 2006 and has nearly matched the total amount of active users on Skype (280 million), which launched in 2003.
WhatsApp allows users to exchange video message, audio notes, photos and hold group chats. Meanwhile, the fact that it allows people to work around long distance messaging charges (since the app lets users contact any person that has the app for no extra charge apart from the $1 download fee) means that WhatsApp has real staying power in the mobile app game.
With that in mind, it's fair to say that the two ex-Yahoo!-employees-turned-entrepreneurs have enjoyed a great amount of success in their four years working with WhatsApp. And here's the kicker, they could have much more success and money if they really want to.
As Business Insider deputy editor Nicholas Carlson pointed out, Acton and Koum could probably make over a billion dollars if they'd agree sell their company to one of the big boys, like Google or Facebook, or if they accepted money from venture capitalists, guys who live to invest in startups like WhatsApp. The two would rather not, though, especially when these options could mean sacrificing their ideals.
The blog indicates that the two founders had grown to dislike ads when they were at Yahoo! and would spend much of their time configuring ads, while they also regarded ads as "insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought." Furthermore, Acton and Koum exposed the lengths to which other companies go to grab users' information so they can advertise to them accordingly.
And while the two entrepreneurs could be making hundreds of millions of dollars more, it seems clear that the accomplishment of staying true to themselves and not selling out is priceless.
Photo via Phonehouse.es