What You Never Knew About The Original Creators Of Whatsapp:
The story of Whatsapp founders is very inspiring and intriguing and it is one every programmer needs to know. Whatsapp founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton were colleagues at Yahoo, and their experience in Yahoo made WhatsApp one of the most popular and used messaging app.
The pitfall of Yahoo as a result of advertising was a lesson Koum and Acton learned and they imbibed the philosophy that ADVERTISING SUCKS for their company. Jan Koum interest was that their Whatsapp app will know little about the user, the system was designed so you won’t need to submit your name, gender or nationality. With no advertising and marketing, their company, Whatsapp Inc grew organically.
JAN KOUM’S SHORT BIOGRAPHY.
Jan Koum was born as the only child to his Jewish parents in Ukraine in 1976. His household was without no running water nor hot water to take a warm bath in the freezing cold. He best described his life in Fastiv, the hometown he grew up as,
“It was so run-down that our school didn’t even have an inside bathroom. Imagine the Ukrainian winter, -20°C, where little kids have to stroll across the parking lot to use the bathroom. Society was extremely closed off: you can read 1984, but living there was experiencing it.”
At that period Ukraine was a communist, political and anti-Semitic country in the Soviet Union. Jan Koum described his society and I quote him,
“I grew up in a society where everything you did was eavesdropped on, recorded, and snitched on. Nobody should have the right to eavesdrop, or you become a totalitarian state – the kind of state I escaped as a kid to come to this country where you have democracy and freedom of speech. Our goal is to protect it.”
In 1992, Jan Koum with his mother and grandmother migrated to California, the United States leaving behind his father. They lived in a small 2-bedroom apartment at the Mountain view, California. Koum assisted financially by sweeping the floor of a grocery store while his mom took up a babysitting job, yet they still lived on government support and food stamps.
Jan Koum lost his mom to cancer when he was 24, and his dad died in Ukraine in 1997. At high school, he was not that good in math and computer science, but at the age of 18, he got interested in computer and network programming. He taught himself by reading books he rented from a local used book store and then returning them when he was through with them.
Jan Koum then attended San Jose State University and worked as a security tester at Ernst & Young to help pay his tuition fees. Soon enough, while working as a security tester, Jan Koum met Brian Acton(co-founder of Whatsapp) and in 1997, Koum got a job as an infrastructure engineer at Yahoo while still attending San Jose State University.
One day Jan Koum was in class when David Filo, Yahoo co-founder called him requesting him to come to work immediately because they had server issues. This incident eventually led Koum to quit his college education, He even admitted that he hated school.
Koum joined woowoo, a group of hackers that focused on security. He even called on the group to help him when a Canadian teen launched a cyber attack on Yahoo. Brian Acton also experienced a financial setback in Yahoo as he lost millions of dollars in the dotcom boom era of 2000.
THE STORY OF WHATSAPP.
Koum and Acton continued working at Yahoo for nine years and then quitted their jobs in 2007 to explore a new adventure in the ever changing world of the social media. So they both applied for a job at Facebook and Twitter after taking a break in South America, but they were both rejected. Brian Acton tweeted about the ordeal. His tweets were,
“Got denied by Twitter HQ. That’s ok. Would have been a long commute.”
”Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.”