WhatsApp is a messaging app for smartphones created in 2009 by two former Yahoo employees, Brian Acton and Jan Koum.
It was Koum who saw the potential of operating through the Apple App Store after purchasing an iPhone in early 2009. The app initially focused on statuses; Koum later revealed that part of his motivation was to stop missing calls while he was the gym.
Users quickly came to use this as an instant messaging service, planting the seed for what the app would become. WhatsApp 2.0 incorporated the messaging function that would come to be the app’s defining feature.
WhatsApp was unique at the time, outside of Blackberry’s BBM, in providing a free message service that allowed users to log in with their phone number. WhatsApp 2.0 was an instant success, quickly reaching 250,000 active users. This was enough for Acton to convince a circle of fellow ex-Yahoo employees to part with $250,000 in seed funding.
WhatsApp incorporated multimedia messaging later in the same year, and was released on Android the following. From that point, WhatsApp marched to ubiquitous status. By October 2011, one billion messages were being sent per day; by early 2013, WhatsApp could boast 200 million active users.
Facebook clearly saw WhatsApp as a potential threat to its own offering, and therefore flexed its muscles. In February 2014, it moved to acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion, which remains its largest acquisition to date and one of the largest tech acquisitions in history.
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This has caused some degree of controversy related to data sharing with the parent company, despite promises of increasing levels of encryption, reportedly end-to-end by 2016. Both founders have left the company based on these concerns.
WhatsApp, however, remains the market leader its sector. Since its simple beginnings, it has added features such as voice calling, video calling, group calls (video and voice), and in early 2018 launched WhatsApp Business. It has also added payments in its two biggest markets, India and Brazil.
Worldwide, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging service in over 100 countries. It has over two billion active users and is one of the few apps to be downloaded over five billion times.
We have collected data and statistics on WhatsApp. Read on below to find out more.
WhatsApp key statistics
- WhatsApp has over two billion users worldwide, India is the app’s largest market
- WhatsApp is one of the few apps to be downloaded over five billion times on Android and iOS
- It is the most popular messaging app in over 100 countries (SimilarWeb)
- In 2021, it generated $8.7 billion in revenue, almost all from the WhatsApp for Business app
|Title 1||Title 2|
|Launch date||24 February 2009|
|HQ||Menlo Park, California|
|People||Will Cathcart (head of WhatsApp), Brian Acton (co-founder), Jan Koum (co-founder)|
WhatsApp is a small part of Facebook’s revenue, but it has grown rapidly in the past four years, through the WhatsApp Business app which is popular in Brazil, India, and Indonesia.
WhatsApp annual revenue
Note: Facebook has not publicised WhatsApp’s revenue, all values are estimates. Sources: Forbes, WhatsApp
WhatsApp is one of the most used apps in the world and the most popular messaging app in over 100 countries. It reached 2.2 billion active users in 2021.
WhatsApp quarterly users
WhatsApp annual users
Sources: Facebook, WhatsApp
WhatsApp users by country
WhatsApp has users in every region, as the most popular messaging platform in the world that’s to be expected. It wasn’t as popular in the US and UK, but that has started to change in recent years.
WhatsApp users by country 2021
WhatsApp cumulative downloads
WhatsApp surpassed five billion cumulative downloads in 2021, one of a shortlist of less than 10 apps.
WhatsApp cumulative downloads 2013 to 2021
Sources: App Annie, Facebook, Sensor Tower
WhatsApp vs competitors: users
Want to learn more about social apps? Check out our Social App Report
What years was WhatsApp the most downloaded app globally?
In 2017 and 2019, WhatsApp was the most downloaded app globally, with 924 and 850 million downloads, respectively.
What percentage of internet users use WhatsApp?
Excluding China, 69 percent of internet users use WhatsApp (GlobalWebIndex)
How much activity is there on WhatsApp each day?
Over 100 billion WhatsApp messages are sent and over two billion minutes are spent on WhatsApp voice and video calls per day (Facebook)
How many countries is WhatsApp available in?
WhatsApp is available in 180 countries and in 60 languages
How much did Facebook pay for WhatsApp?
Facebook acquired WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014