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The rise of WhatsApp: A timeline

Facebook today acquired WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion, making it the social giant’s costliest acquisition to date. But is WhatsApp really worth its weight in gold? Let’s have a look at th


Facebook today acquired WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion, making it the social giant’s costliest acquisition to date. But is WhatsApp really worth its weight in gold? Let’s have a look at the rise of this messaging app in the timeline below.

June 2009 – As a cheaper and faster alternative to SMS, two former Yahoo employees Brian Acton and Jan Koum launch WhatsApp. In a time when users had to buy SMS packs to send a certain number of free text messages, WhatsApp offered a freedom to send unlimited messages using your data connection for a measly one-time payment of $0.99.

October 2011 – Though it faced tough competition from the likes of Apple’s iMessage and the BlackBerry Messenger, it soon became apparent that WhatsApp was here to stay. Within two years, users on the messaging platform were sending a whopping one billion messages every day.

December 2012 – Not surprisingly, big companies took notice of the growing platform and a year later WhatsApp was being linked with Facebook. The social giant, it was said, was interested in the messaging service’s reach and wanted to make it a part of its social network.

January 2013 – Gone were the days when networks would clog on New Year’s eve because everyone was sending wishes to their friends and families. Now the preferred way was to send a message to everyone on one’s phone list with the tap of one button. No wonder then, on New Year’s Eve in 2012, WhatsApp processed 18 billion messages.

March 2013 – BlackBerry launched its BB10 OS in the beginning of 2013 and it was only a matter of time before WhatsApp reached the new OS. In March, WhatsApp made its debut on the new BB10 OS.

June 2013 – Though competition had become tougher with the likes of WeChat and LINE among others doing respectively, there was just no stopping WhatsApp. Back then 18 billion messages in a day sounded like a huge deal, until WhatsApp announced that it had well and truly broken its own record. In June last year, WhatsApp processed 27 billion messages in a single day.

June 2013 – Near about that time, the company also revealed the number of active users on its platform for the first time. It boasted more active users than Twitter itself, reaching 250 million.

August 2013 – If there were any lingering doubts about the popularity of the platform, it would all but vanish when WhatsApp became a part of popular culture. The music video of singer Katy Perry’s latest single Roar was themed around the messaging app. The lyrics of the song were shown as a chat between Perry and her friends.

August 2013 – The next big update arrived in August last year, when WhatsApp introduced push-to-talk feature. This allowed users to send small voice messages instead of typing out long messages. On the same day, CEO Jan Koum talked about the future of the company saying how he planned on keeping things simple and not introduce things like sticker stores or games to complicate the platform.

October 2013 – By October of last year, WhatsApp’s userbase had climbed to 350 million monthly active users, with more than 20 million users in India alone. In comparison, an app like Line had only 200 million users globally and less than 5 million in India. Another point worth remembering is that this was only the number of registered users, and only WhatsApp was courageous enough to reveal its active users.

December and January 2013 – Within two months, it had further increased the space between itself and its competitors. The number of WhatsApp users had shot up by 50 million to reach 400 million active users. On New Year’s Eve, it obliterated its own record by processing a whopping 54 billion messages.

February 2013 – This morning the company surprised us all when it announced that it had been acquired by Facebook for $19 billion.

Check out this chart (via Business Insider) that visualizes WhatsApp’s growth.


  • Published Date: February 20, 2014 11:22 AM IST
  • Updated Date: February 20, 2014 11:25 AM IST