Many would like to ask the question, “what is WhatsApp”? It is a free mobile application, created for instant messaging. It works on almost every phone that has internet facility except for Blackberry phones. WhatsApp is just like an upgraded traditional Short Messaging Service(SMS). Except that you can send files, documents, videos, music, voice and recently audio and video calls. Although, I believe everyone knows this already, except you live under a rock. However, not much is known about the WhatsApp creator, Jan Koum, the genius that transformed how we communicate on our phones. Maybe he has intended to live a life away from the public eye. However, the aim of this article is to shine some light on this revolutionary, that was born in a little village around Kiev, Ukraine.
Table of Contents
1. He was born in a village:
You would expect the famous tech billionaire to have been born in one of those posh streets in New York. But he was birthed and spent the initial part of his life around Kiev. He was born in a very modest family, in 1976. It was so bad that his house lacked hot water facility, and of course no internet access. Although they had a telephone, his mother was scared to use it, because they were Jewish (Jewish people were bullied due to their religion). The authority in Ukraine at that time was secretly monitoring calls, especially toward minorities.
2. He moved to America at the age of 16:
He pretty much spent his childhood days in Ukraine. He arrived in Mountain View California, USA, at 16. Jan moved with his mother, and they stayed in a government provided the facility. His mother had to babysit for money, while Jan washed floors in local stores. However, Mountain View has now become a thriving tech hub.
3. He once worked as a cleaner:
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Long before creating WhatsApp server, Jan’s family struggled financially when they got to America. As it was already mentioned, his mother used to take care of children for money, while Jan was forced to work as a cleaning worker. Things were tough, but the hardest times were about to come. His mother was falling sick often. She went to a hospital, and it was diagnosed that she had cancer. She succumbed to this illness in 2000. He had lost his dad 3 years earlier. If you think your life is tough, well, Jan lost both parents in a foreign country within 5.
4. He learned how to code by himself:
If you thought a Harvard education is required to create something groundbreaking in technology, you’re wrong. You do not need a higher education certificate to affect the world. Jan Koum learned how to code by himself. He taught himself network engineering, unlike Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. Well, if you needed something to inspire you, here it is. He had no fancy institution’s degree, and still made something substantial out of it.
5. He acquired a computer when he was around 19 years of age
It took Jan years of savings to finally get a basic computer. He did not own any high-tech equipment, but who said you need any to create anything valuable?
6. Yahoo was one of the first to patronize him:
While in the university, he used to read tons of books. This developed his skills and he was able to work in Ernst & Young. He also got a job at Yahoo, a budding company at that time. He was one of the earliest workers of the tech firm. He went ahead to work for Yahoo for nearly a decade.
7. He was rejected by Facebook and Twitter:
Jan eventually quit Yahoo in 2007 and decided to travel the world for about a year. He probably did this to rediscover himself, so he could forge a new path. He applied to social media giants – Facebook and Twitter, but was denied the opportunity.
8. He started WhatsApp with his savings:
He used the money he had saved up while working for Yahoo, to start this A sum of about 400 thousand dollars. After he had garnered around 245,000 regular users, the WhatsApp owner then invited his friend, Brian, to co-found. They jointly grew the company over the years. The tech company grew exponentially to have close a billion active users in 2015.
9. He chose the name of this app in a second:
Jan wanted his messenger to have a fun and short name that would easily stick to users’ memory. He decided to go with the name WhatsApp because it is similar to “what’s up” phrase – something we all start the conversation with.
10. He is a billionaire:
Jan Koum became a billionaire in 2005. He sold his mobile application to Facebook for a staggering 22 billion dollars.
Although Jan is the founder of WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg is now the owner of both WhatsApp and Facebook.