Facebook has made some significant moves recently in the mobile world — releasing a Snapchat competitor in Slingshot and hiring away David Marcus from PayPal to lead mobile messaging.
As Marcus’ hiring leads many to see a time when Facebook users can someday send money through Messenger, Tango Chief Technology Officer Eric Setton notes that several Asian messaging apps have already mastered the frontier of maximizing time spent on mobile, as well as monetization. He talked with Inside Facebook recently about how Marcus’ hiring signals that Facebook may start borrowing traits from apps such as Tango, WeChat and Line. Tango is a messaging app with 200 million users — 70 million of which are in the U.S., Setton says.
Inside Facebook: What do you think the hiring of David Marcus means for Facebook?
Eric Setton: The way I see it, Facebook is finally noticing and can basically not ignore the innovation happening in other services … and will have to play the game and have to open the platform on the messaging side as well. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that David Marcus has such a strong expertise in payments. If you have an app that people check 30 or 40 times a day, that’s a great opportunity to be able to connect you to more things. I think this is a great bridge to commerce and distribution at large.
Wednesday night, WhatsApp Co-Founder Brian Acton spoke at the StartX OpenX closing party in Palo Alto, giving some interesting information about his company’s acquisition by Facebook. It was Acton’s first public speaking appearance for WhatsApp, as the company has generally avoided media attention.
StartX, headquartered in Facebook’s former city, is a Stanford University-spun startup incubator. Acton was speaking to a group of a couple hundred Stanford students and grads, as well as other startup founders from around the Bay Area.
Here are some key points from his discussion at StartX:
The acquisition wasn’t totally about teens
Though many people rumored that Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp was a way to buy some teen users internationally, Acton doesn’t see it that way. Whereas Facebook tries to get as much user information as possible, Acton said that WhatsApp doesn’t really keep much information other than a cell phone number.
He told Inside Facebook that the company doesn’t break out data by demographic. When asked about how many teenage or younger users WhatsApp has, Acton said that the company doesn’t track it:
We don’t know. You know why we don’t know? We don’t ask people about their age at all. That’s part of why we’re such a private product.
The Federal Trade Commission approved Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of WhatsApp on Thursday, but issued a warning to the messaging app that it needs to keep its pre-Facebook level of privacy in place.
Bureau Director Jessica Rich wrote a letter to both companies’ legal counsel, noting that before making any changes to how Facebook uses data already collected from WhatsApp users, both companies must get affirmative consent. Facebook/WhatsApp also must not misrepresent their efforts in maintaining the privacy and security of data. Rich also recommends that WhatsApp users be able to opt out of any future changes to how newly-collected data is used.
When Facebook acquired internationally-popular messenger WhatsApp for a total of $19 billion, the tech world was abuzz with reaction, jubilation and speculation.
We talked with several analysts and experts to get their take on if WhatsApp was the right purchase for Facebook — and at the right price.
WhatsApp may not be well known to U.S. users, but make no mistake: Facebook’s $19 billion acquisition of the messaging app is a huge deal. WhatsApp is largely popular internationally, and as Mark Zuckerberg said in a conference call Wednesday afternoon, has the chance to grow past 1 billion users.
WhatsApp has more than 450 million monthly active users — 70 percent of whom are active on a given day. WhatsApp users, some of whom pay a nominal fee to use the app on a subscription model, are growing by 1 million users per day. They send more than 19 billion messages per day and receive more than 34 billion per day. 600 million photos, 200 million voice messages and 100 million video messages are sent through WhatsApp every day.
But AppData’s revenue estimates show just why Facebook acquired WhatsApp. According to AppData’s revenue estimates for the Android app, just 8.2 percent of WhatsApp’s global revenue so far this year has come from the U.S., compared to 73.3 percent in Germany and 18.5 percent in the U.K.