Acton and Koum, the WhatsApp guys

Koum and Acton, two bold types

Brian Acton and Jan Koum, the creators of WhatsApp that have become two mega-rich stars, represent the value of an ironclad friendship. They both met when they worked at Yahoo !. Koum arrived in Mountain View (Silicon Valley, California) with his mother from Ukraine when he was 16 years old. He finished high school, became interested in programming and, one day, while he was in class, he received the call from David Filo, co-founder of Yahoo !, where he worked as a fellow. I asked him to go immediately. He left the class halfway and did not return to the University of the State of San José, where he was studying mathematics and programming.

Orphan of a father from 1997 and after losing in the year 2000 to its mother, ill of cancer, the American Acton was the friend who invited him to house in indicated dates, which took him to ski or merely to take a walk.

Koum’s economic situation was not the best. For a long time, while in high school, he needed state help to feed himself and his mother. Hence the symbolic place was chosen for the signing of the contract with Facebook: the office where he collected the coupons to get the basic products with the subsidy.

His obsession with instant messaging did not come only by saving, with the intention to end the tyranny of SMS prices of telephone operators. At the time when his father and mother lived in Kiev, they spoke in whispers inside the house for fear of accusations. They did not call on the phone either, for fear of being spied on by the communist regime. In a recent conference in Munich, he related that from his Ukrainian childhood he had a very internalized way of life without advertising, where word of mouth sold things. This is how he thought of a form of communication that was direct between people, without ads or intermediaries.

Koum grew up in Kiev between whispers and without phone calls for fear of the espionage of the communist regime
The cooperation between Koum and Acton can be seen from the first moment they are before them. Officially, Koum is the spokesperson, the one who made the application, the one who sends. Cutting, sarcastic and, at times, distant, he measures his words and is scathing. During the last meeting with EL PAÍS, in May, neither of them used an iPhone, precisely the phone that was key to its success and expansion (they started the application only for iOS). “Yes, it was very good. We also liked it before, “Koum said sarcastically. Acton remained in the background, but he tinged or smiled with some outside of his big friend.

Tired of exploring more and more in user data to fine-tune Yahoo! Advertising, the couple left the company. Acton tried to work on Facebook. On August 3, 2009, he posted a message on his Twitter account saying that he was not accepted: “Facebook has not caught me. It was a great opportunity to connect with fantastic people. Looking forward to the next adventure in life. ” Shortly before, on May 23, Twitter did not accept him either. “They have rejected me at the Twitter headquarters. Well OK. I would have spent a lot of time going and coming back, “he resigned himself.

Meanwhile, the couple developed the prototype WhatsApp, which was released in 2009 and now, with 430 million users, have sold to Facebook.

After the visit of Mark Zuckerberg to the office to talk with the workers, the employees talked with the lawyers of the social network. All mail from the last days was going to be tracked. Then everyone went to celebrate it on Castro Street, the central artery of Mountain View.

Before falling into the Facebook empire, Google tried in April last year its purchase. It failed (it is said that it offered a billion), it would have been the perfect alternative to the deficient integration of Hangouts in the mobile, which manages SMS by default in Android but does not finish synchronizing.

One of the most striking movements before the signing was the purchase of a three-story building near its current location. There will be the current staff and those who join throughout this year because they expect to reach a hundred employees, almost twice the current.

The Country of Madrid

Posted by on February 22, 2014
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