What does Kiev, Ukraine, Food stamps, Cancer, San Jose State University, Ernst & Young, Yahoo, South America, Ultimate Frisbee, Facebook, Apple App Store, RentACoder.com, Apple push notifications, instant messaging, Mark Zuckerberg and the North County Social Services office have in common?
They all help take WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum, 2 the next level of success and a 19 billion dollar acquisition from Facebook.
- Jan Koum came to this country with his mom from Kiev, Ukraine
- Jan’s mom at one time on public assistance and had to apply for food stamps to help feed them.
- When Jan’s mother was diagnosed with cancer, they lived off her disability allowance.
- Jan enrolled at San Jose State University and moonlighted at Ernst & Young as a security tester.
- In 1997, Jan found himself sitting across a desk from his soon to be co-founder Brian Acton, Yahoo employee 44, to inspect the company’s advertising system.
- In September 2007 Jan and Brian finally left Yahoo and took a year to decompress, traveling around South America and playing ultimate frisbee.
- Jan and Brian applied, and failed, to work at Facebook. They were part of the Facebook reject club.
- In January 2009, Jan bought an iPhone and realized that the seven-month-old App Store was about to spawn a whole new industry of apps.
- Jan needed an iPhone developer to help him with his new status update app, so he hired Igor Solomennikov, a developer in Russia that his friend Alex Fishman, found on RentACoder.com.
- Jan was about to give up on his status app when help came from Apple after it launched push notifications in June 2009, letting developers ping users when they weren’t using an app.
- Jan’s app went from just status updates to become an instant messaging platform that sent text messages worldwide for free. WhatsApp’s user base had swelled to about 200 million active users and its staff to 50.
- After being courted by Twitter and Google, Jan decided to go with Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook and signed the 19 billion dollar acquisition deal on the door of the North County Social Services office where Jan’s dearly departed mother brought him to get her food stamps.