whatsapp 1 billion

“There are only few services that connect a billion people…”, says Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg on his Facebook page. And WhatsApp, the company he acquired two years ago for a tenth of Facebook’s value, has just crossed that milestone.

To get a sense of how fast Whatsapp is growing, the service hit 800 million actives in April 2015. Founder, Jan Koum cheekily reminded the press in a Facebook post commemorating the event that active users are different from registered users. By September 2015, Whatsapp had added another million users. Adding another million by January 2016 suggests that WhatsApp is doing this every four months.

A unicorn, in VC-speak is a startup company that is valued at over a billion dollars. If we are allowed to coin some more quirky VC-speak for what just happened, WhatsApp has become a “usercorn”. A user unicorn.

And while unicorns have become commodities since the term was first coined, (there are now 159 as opposed to 39 in 2013) usercorns are still rare. Google’s Gmail app itself just hit a billion users. If you throw mobile OSes into the mix, you get an interesting picture. No guarantees of total accuracy, but according to the most recent reported figures:


9 usercorns detected. It’s gonna take some of these guys a while to catch up.

Meanwhile, did you notice that together, the apps in the Facebook ecosystem control more than 3.7 billion active users a month? If you don’t discount for user overlaps across the apps, that’s more than half the people on the planet. Of course, when you take into consideration that Google…er sorry, Alphabet…has SEVEN of said usercorns in its universe…


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