WhatsApp, Facebook, and Ukraine...

February 28, 2022

"We don’t know everything but we Have the ability to learn more than we know right now". That’s from the book the Checklist Manifesto which got me thinking about growth in general.

The one thing that we can always get inundated with is information. When we don’t have priorities that we can focus on daily everything looks important or nothing looks important, and both cause action. This is why I love this story that I just came across this week.

While digging through the Internet trying to find information about Ukraine I came across the founder of WhatsApp, Jan Koum. He was born in Ukraine under poor conditions. Not only was his family extremely poor, but the country was also under the Soviet Union.

Most of his young life he spent in Ukraine, but fortunately, Jan and his mother came to the United States at the age of 16 and they settled in Silicon Valley. Although they struggled to make a living while they were in the USA, they were on welfare and food stamps, which didn’t deter him from wanting a better life.

Surrounded by tech companies he was inspired to learn more about computers and coding. He would buy computer and coding books from the local bookstores and then return them once he finished reading them because he didn’t have enough money to buy new ones he had to hack the system.

After high school, he attended San Jose University and eventually went to work for Yahoo. A great quote from Jan shows that any type of success in life isn’t easy,  "I have many regrets and things I wish I could go back and change, but I have also worked hard and tried to improve myself." — Jan Koum

Once he left yahoo he wanted to continue to work for other tech companies and applied to Facebook, but didn’t get in.

He decided to work on his own project and when he decided to get an iPhone he buckled down and started creating an app with a talented programmer friend of his Brian Acton. That’s where the idea of WhatsApp came into play. When they introduced the app to the App Store it did terribly. It wasn’t until the iPhone introduced "notifications" that it started growing organically and very rapidly.

Not too much later It was purchased by Facebook for a whopping 19 billion dollars. Jan Koum is now a Billionaire, and WhatsApp is widely spread across the world, helping people communicate with ease.

The great thing about the story is that Success looks different for so many people. The one thing that will always be true is that your chances of reaching success in the world are usually directly connected to the number of people you can help.

Whatever type of success you’re looking for, know that it starts with a desire to grow. Knowing where you’re at right now is not enough and that things around you will change and you have an opportunity to grow with the things around you.

Thank you for reading A Brilliant Tribe