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February 25 2014

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November 26 2013

Global Mobile Android/iOS Messaging App Map Dominated By WhatsApp - But BBM Bags A Foothold
The mobile messaging app landscape continues to be highly geographically fragmented, with different messaging services doing well in different global regions. Despite ongoing localised variety, messaging veteran WhatsApp remains dominant in multiple global regions, even as relative newcomer -- to Android and iOS -- BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), gets a foothold on the social chit-chat map of these two platforms.

September 12 2013

Fring, An Early Mover In Mobile Messaging And Video Apps, Sells For $50M To Genband To Build Out WhatsApps For Carriers
Fring, an early startup that focused on creating group messaging and video calling apps for mobile phones, competing against the likes of Skype and WhatsApp, is calling it a day as an independent entity: it has been sold to Genband, a provider of services like IP gateways and billing and other services to mobile, fixed and cable carriers. Terms of the deal have not been officially disclosed, but we have heard from a source that the price was $50 million.

August 07 2013

Voice Messaging Comes To Whatsapp
Mobile messaging pioneer, Whatsapp, has added a walkie-talkie-like voice messaging feature to its app. Users will now be able to press and hold a button to speak, and have that voice clip sent once the button is released. Whatsapp has reportedly worked on this feature for the past half year, and is intent on making the experience as smooth as possible. The app will detect whether the phone is held to the ear or in front of the user, and pipes received messages at the appropriate volumes. Voice messaging appears to have taken off in Asia, where many of Whatsapp’s messaging competitors have had this feature for a while now. Tencent WeChat, for example, upped the voice messaging game by adding five voice filters and six background tracks you can layer under your voice recording, such as a rainstorm or a pumping club track. Perfect for sending those fake emergency messages to say you’re caught in bad weather. Bubbly (formerly Bubble Motion) also updated its app recently to include voice filters such as reverb and pitch-changers, reflecting the trend towards voice messaging here. Whatsapp also told AllThingsD that its users now send 11 billion messages and receive 20 billion messages per day, up from a total of 27 billion in June. It now has 300 million active users each month, matching Chinese rival WeChat, which reported it reached this size in April this year. The Sequoia-backed company has just 45 employees, for the considerable scale that its product has reached. It has famously refused to display ads on its interface, instead charging 99 cents for its iOS app at the start, before deciding to charge a subscription starting last month.

July 17 2013

The Granddaddy of Messaging Apps, WhatsApp, Finally Goes For A Subscription Model on iOS
While messaging has become a veritable war with apps like Line, KakaoTalk, WeChat, Path and Facebook Messenger across Asia and Western markets, there’s been one longstanding app that’s presided over the space with very few apparent changes. WhatsApp, the Sequoia-backed messaging app that dominates in Europe and that is often tipped as an attractive acquisition candidate for companies like Google and Facebook, just went freemium finally on iOS. The app has been paid for years on the iPhone at a $0.99 price point. But today it went free with an annual subscription fee of $1 after the first year. This isn’t really a surprise as CEO Jam Koum talked about this several months ago. It brings WhatsApp’s business model on iOS in line with other platforms like Android, BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Phone. The paid app business model is really a vestige of an older era where developers would sell their work up-front. But over time, many paid apps have made the switch toward going free with paid features. Games really triggered this wave, but other high-usage apps like messaging have gone for a freemium strategy. Japan’s Line, for example, made $58.9 million in the first quarter of this year in Japan through in-app purchases and sales of stickers — which apps like Path and Facebook Messenger have subsequently copied. WhatsApp launched way back in 2009 and quickly grew popular in markets where SMS pricing made messaging through smartphone apps cheaper. It really dominates in European markets and has a strong foothold in India as well. Recently, the company said it was bigger than Twitter with more than 200 million monthly actives, 10 billion messages sent and 17 billion received in a single day.

June 13 2013

WhatsApp Still Killing It By Messaging Volume Despite Free Rivals Crowding In
Along with Skype, WhatsApp is the grand daddy of the mobile messaging app space. But despite its relative great age it appears to be continuing to build usage momentum. Earlier today WhatsApp announced a new daily messaging metric record, following on from its recent "bigger than Twitter" boast. Its new daily high is 10 billion+ inbound (sent) messages and 17 billion+ outbound (received) messages.

May 18 2013

How Hike, India's Fast Growing Mobile Messaging App, Is Banking On SMS & Local Diversity To Beat The Big Boys
It’s still practically a newborn but Indian mobile messaging app Hike is already channelling almost a billion messages a month between its 5m registered users. Those numbers sound insignificant when you stack them up against the big beasts of the messaging space – WhatsApp claims 200m+ monthly active users, and 600bn messages – but Hike’s growth is impressive when you consider it's 4 months old.

April 08 2011


Sequoia Invests $8 Million In Messaging App Maker WhatsApp: Sources

Messaging apps that let you use your smartphone to text or chat with your friends or even large groups of people, often free of charge, are red hot. We’ve heard from a reliable source that one of the companies making waves in the space, WhatsApp, has just secured $8 million in financing from Sequoia Capital, and possibly other investors.

WhatsApp enables users of iPhone, Android, Blackberry and Nokia Symbian60 devices to exchange text messages, images, audio and even video messages with one another.

I have no idea how many users or downloads WhatsApp has attracted to date, as the company prefers to keep a low profile, but I’ve heard the name of the app drop in several conversations I’ve had about the mobile messaging space.

I was actually quite surprised to find that they weren’t funded yet, especially with the track record of their co-founders, who established the company back in 2009.

WhatsApp was founded by Jan Koum, who formerly managed the Platform Operations team responsible for the critical internal pieces of Yahoo’s infrastructure, and Yahoo’s former VP of Engineering Brian Acton.

Another former Yahoo exec, the company’s ex-Senior Engineering Manager Charles Kung describes himself as an investor and advisor to the company on LinkedIn.

Some signs that the app has already gotten some traction on the market: its iPhone app has received 28,040 ratings and hundreds of reviews on iTunes, while its Blackberry app has garnered 4,050 reviews.

Sequoia recently participated in a $10 million round of funding for Bubble Motion, which offers a popular Twitter-like voice blogging service in India, Japan, and Indonesia, and has also invested in mobile communications company Clickatell.

Other developers of similar mobile messaging apps have received funding in the past: Kik Interactive raised $8 million from RRE Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures, while GroupMe secured over $11 million in funding from investors like Khosla Ventures, First Round Capital, Betaworks and SV Angel, and textPlus raised $15 million from GRP Partners, Matrix, and Kleiner Perkins.

Other contenders include Fast Society, which has raised $275,000 in seed financing from ENIAC Ventures and Quest Venture Partners, and GroupFlier, which has secured $500,000 in seed funding from Novak Biddle Venture Partners.

Last month, another group messaging service named Beluga was acquired by Facebook.

And let’s not forget that Google has a group texting app as well, called Disco.

In other words, this space is heating up fast, and investors are keen to ride the wave. I haven’t yet confirmed the Sequoia financing deal with WhatsApp, I should note, as I’ve been unable to reach them all day, although our sources say the deal is done and has already been communicated to WhatsApp employees.

We’ll update if and when we get confirmation.

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