Jan Koum refugee to founder of whatsApp

Jan Koum was born in the rural areas of Kiev on the 24th of Feb 1976, Ukraine, the life in soviet era for Jewish koum was difficult, he spent his childhood without electricity, his parents also denied the usage of phones because Jewish people were usually tapped by Govt.

Jan Koum and his mother had to leave Ukraine and migrated to California for better life. They initially received subsidy from Govt as per the immigration policy, Jam’s mother started to work as babysat where koum also worked as Janitor(caretaker).

Jan used to purchase books on computer and learn about computer networking on his own, he also worked as a cleaner at a grocery store. Soon Jan Koum became well versed in networking and joined San Jose State University to learn programming and joined Ernst & Young (E&Y) as a Security Tester.

Jan Koum

Jan Koum

The life changed when his mother became victim of cancer, he had to take complete responsibility of house, after working for six months in E&Y he got better opportunity in Yahoo during then it was still a start-up as an Infrastructure Engineer.

Jan Koum and Brian Acton

Jam Koum’s mother died in 2000 due to cancer, the life of Koum took a sharp change as he started to feel alone, his life changed when he and Brian Acton (his yahoo colleague) used to invite him for playing soccer, ultimate Frisbee, etc.

Jan Koum and Brian Acton

Jan Koum and Brian Acton

Jam and Brian Acton together spent 9 years in yahoo, after giving nine years of his life, Jam and Brian left their jobs in September 2007, Jam had $400,000 savings his next life was completely depended on it, they applied for Job in Facebook and twitter but both rejected them.

Jan Koum and whatsApp

Jam’s dream run started on 24th of Feb 2009 in California Jan quickly got the name “WhatsApp” incorporated on his birthday. The initial stage of WhatsApp was not good, WhatsApp used to get crashed frequently.

Jam Koum worked on updates for long time, he launched push notifications which used to allow developers to ping their users even when they weren’t using it.



Jan updated WhatsApp with the same and each time someone changed their status. He released second version called WhatsApp 2.0, This was turned WhatsApp into Instant Messenger because it also had a messaging component, within few days WhatsApp had 250,000 active users.

WhatsApp funding.

WhatsApp got first round of funding of $250,000, after a little persuasion, from five of their ex-Yahoo friends. WhatsApp later received $8 million from Sequoia Capital in April 2011.

WhatsApp in second round of funding and raised $50 million at a valuation $1.5 billion from Sequoia by then WhatsApp bank balance read $8.257 million. within a span of two years WhatsApp had reached to a user base of more than 200 million and a staffing of 50 employees.

WhatsApp revenue model.

WhatsApp revenue model is simple

1.They charged iPhone users on first time installation

  1. Android users every year pay for renewal.

WhatsApp acquired by Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg contacted Jan in 2012 after several meetings for months, Mark formally proposed a deal and asked Jan to join the Facebook board. In February 2014, Facebook announced it was acquiring WhatsApp for $19 Billion. They were paid $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in Facebook shares, and an additional $3 billion in restricted stock units.

Jan Koum and zukerberg

Jan Koum and zukerberg

WhatsApp has a fan base of 1 billion by 2016 and is top instant messaging app in world. The journey of Jan Koum is an inspiration, from poor refugee to billionaire is inspiration for each and every one of us.


Written by storypmb