How WhatsApp got its first users?

WhatsApp MVP

Jan Koum and Brain Acton started WhatsApp as a result of Koum's frequent visits at Alex Fishman’s regular meetings. Russians from the Fisherman's neighborhood frequently visited Alex to eat some pizza and watch movies. Koum was telling them about WhatsApp. He missed calls quite often, and he hated it. He wanted an app to display people's statuses when they couldn't chat on the phone (for example, "On a meeting").

WhatsApp first version, called WhatsApp 1.0, was riddled with faults, and users rejected it. When Apple released push notifications for iOS, Koum opted to release WhatsApp 2.0, which included this capability. People would be now alerted about their friends' status updates.

Koum and Acton also exploited an App Store loophole. WhatsApp appeared in the "What's New" list as a "new" app anytime its authors updated its name on the AppStore. They did it over and over, and really boosted WhatsApp user growth. Eventually, WhatsApp first 1,000 users came, and the app remained on top of the Apple's "What's New" list until Apple addressed the glitch.

Sometime later, WhatsApp users began using it for instant messaging. That greatly increased WhatsApp's popularity.


Get your
"oh sh*t, this might work for us!"
moment in the next 5 minutes

Viral marketing case studies and marketing psychology principles that made hundreds of millions in months or weeks

In the first email:

  • a step-by-step strategy that made $0-$30M within 9 weeks with $0 marketing budget (case study)
  • cheatsheet (PDF) of 10 biases in marketing used by top 2% companies

Other than that:

  • weekly original content that helps you STAND OUT by providing more perceived value with less work

(You won't find it anywhere else)

Explore Cognitive Biases in Marketing

You cannot copy content of this page