Wednesday, 26 February 2014

We want a billion Indians on WhatsApp, says co-founder Jan Koum

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WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum took time off from his hectic schedule at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, on what was his 38th birthday, to talk to ET about the $19 billion deal with Facebook and what advice he would give entrepreneurs. Edited excerpts:

Q: It's said that you applied for a job at both Twitter and Facebook.

A: I was interviewed for Facebook but nothing really worked out.

Q: What made you start WhatsApp? How did you hit upon the idea? What did you do that was different from other messenger services?

A: I got an iPhone and I started to experiment trying to build an application for an iPhone. First, we focused on using your address book. Everybody else was using user names .. 

We were the first guys to do it, we were actually the first mover. Everybody else came in and tried to copy us, but they weren't successful. We were global from day one. We focused on translations, we added Italian, German, Spanish, Russian, into the applications from day one because we understood that it's the power of communication, that people want to communicate with people in other countries.

We hired really smart people, our first set of engineers was extremely talented and allowe ..