Web: Why WhatsApp Only Needs 50 Engineers for Its 900M Users

September 2015 by: From The Web

Earlier this month, in a post to his Facebook page, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced that his company’s instant messaging service is now used by more than 900 million people. And then Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promptly responded with two posts of his own. One said “congrats,” and the other included a cheeky photo Zuckerberg had taken of Koum as the WhatsApp CEO keyed his 900-million-user post into a smartphone. “Here’s an action shot of you writing this update,” Zuckerberg wrote.


WhatsApp is owned by Facebook, after Zuckerberg and company paid $19 billion for the startup a little more than a year ago. That means Facebook now runs three of the most popular apps on the internet. Its primary social networking service is used by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide, and Facebook Messenger, an instant messaging service spun off from Facebook proper, spans 700 million. But the 900 million-user milestone announced by Koun is very much a WhatsApp achievement, not a product of the formidable Facebook machine.


One of the (many) intriguing parts of the WhatsApp story is that it has achieved such enormous scale with such a tiny team. When the company was acquired by Facebook, it had 35 engineers and reached more than 450 million users. Today, it employs only about 50 engineers, though the number of WhatsApp users has doubled, and this tiny engineering staff continues to run things almost entirely on its own. In a world where so many internet services are rapidly expanding to millions upon millions of users, WhatsApp shows the way forward—at least in part.


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Continue Reading: Wired