During the call, Facebook management noted that it expects WhatsApp to grow to a billion users over the next few years. Plus, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented:
“And then we believe that once we get to being a service that has billion, two billion, maybe even three billion people one day, that there are many clear ways that we can monetize, but the right strategy we believe, is to continue focusing on growth and the product and succeeding in building the best communication tools in the world.”
WhatsApp’s CEO, Jan Koum, elaborated that the service would continue to eschew ads, at least in the near term, and said:
“We think that for our product for messaging, advertisement is not necessarily the right thing to go. We feel that we actually have a very solid monetization system in place that helps us create a direct relationship with our user and our customer.”
Koum further stated, “And WhatsApp really focuses on growth. Monetization is not going to be a priority for us, and this is why I actually respect Mark and his vision is that he takes a very long term on everything they do at Facebook.”
Importantly, Facebook plans to keep WhatsApp independent and autonomous. Zuckerberg remarked in the conference call:
“We’re committed to building and operating WhatsApp independently. Their product roadmap is very exciting and it’s not going to change. We will work hard together over the coming years to help WhatsApp grow even faster and reach many more people… I mean, WhatsApp is going to operate independently. That’s a really important thing here. We want to do this the same way that we did Instagram.”
Historically, WhatsApp has been committed to offering a service that’s light and streamlined, which performs its function of direct messaging very well. On the WhatsApp blog last week, the company stated:
“A few short years ago, my friend Brian and I set out to build a messaging service with a single focus: best possible user experience. We bet that if our team of engineers could make messaging fast, simple, and personal, we could charge people directly for the service without having to rely on annoying banner ads, game promotions, or all those other distracting ‘features’ that come with many messaging apps.”
That Facebook plans to keep WhatsApp as a separately functioning unit underlines its commitment to this ethos.
© 2013 Market Realist, Inc.