The CEO Of WhatsApp Really, Really, Really, *Really*, Hates Advertising
The guys who lead WhatsApp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton really don't like advertising. And that's probably an understatement.
Koum's first ever tweet says, "Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don't need." (This is a reference to Fight Club.)In a big profile in Forbes, Koum says, "Dealing with ads is depressing ... You don't make anyone's life better by making advertisements work better."
Speaking to Wired, Koum says:
"There's nothing more personal to you than communicating with friends and family, and interrupting that with advertising is not the right solution ... And we don't have to know a lot about our users. To target advertisements well, companies need to know where you are, what you might be doing, who you might be with, what you might like or not like. That's an insane amount of data. Besides, I grew up in a world with no advertising. There was none in the Communist Soviet Union."
WhatsApp promises that it will never have advertising, even after being bought by Facebook. Facebook is almost entirely ad supported.
WhatsApp charges users $1 annually. At least, in theory it does. It has 450 million users, but Forbes says it only did $20 million in revenue last year, so it must not be charging everyone.
For Facebook, this will be an experiment to see if it can support a non-advertising based business. For WhatsApp, it's odd that it wanted to join an ad-based company considering how much it hates ads. We suppose $19 billion makes it less odd, but still.