Despite making a promise not to interfere with WhatsApp when Facebook purchased it for $19 billion, Mark Zuckerberg is now exploring the app’s growth potential. WhatsApp’s importance has increased for Meta, with more than two billion global users. It has become one of Meta’s fastest-growing services, particularly in its mature American market. Facebook and Instagram ads are quickly generating revenue and could bring in $10 billion this year. Mr. Zuckerberg sees WhatsApp as a cornerstone for business messaging and a primary conversation app moving forward.
Jan Koum and Brian Acton created WhatsApp as a free, fast, and secure messaging app that stood out for using a data connection instead of mobile carriers’ SMS messages. Mr. Zuckerberg acquired the app in 2014 and initially allowed its founders to make most decisions. However, by 2019, he sought more control over his company’s apps and tied them together. This led to the departure of WhatsApp’s founders and other employees who accused Mr. Zuckerberg of breaking privacy promises made upon acquiring the service.
Despite these challenges, WhatsApp has continued to evolve adding features and paid tools for businesses. It introduced ads that connect users to a brand’s WhatsApp account, the fastest-growing ad format for Meta. The app has progressed into professional business apps and is expanding its payment infrastructure. However, it faces competition from iMessage, Signal, and Telegram, and some regulatory hurdles in Europe.
Neighboring a year of efficiency at Meta, WhatsApp’s momentum is a reminder that the company is still reliant on its family of social apps. Mr. Zuckerberg’s stance on WhatsApp has changed from being an unknown opportunity for monetization to a key component for Meta’s future.