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Setting the record straight

Since announcing our upcoming partnership with Facebook, we’ve been truly humbled by how much attention our story has received. As a company, we’re excited to continue focusing on offering as many people as possible the chance to stay connected with friends and loved ones, no matter who they are or where they live.

Unfortunately, there has also been a lot of inaccurate and careless information circulating about what our future partnership would mean for WhatsApp users’ data and privacy.

I’d like to set the record straight.

Above all else, I want to make sure you understand how deeply I value the principle of private communication. For me, this is very personal. I was born in Ukraine, and grew up in the USSR during the 1980s. One of my strongest memories from that time is a phrase I’d frequently hear when my mother was talking on the phone: “This is not a phone conversation; I’ll tell you in person.” The fact that we couldn’t speak freely without the fear that our communications would be monitored by KGB is in part why we moved to the United States when I was a teenager.

Respect for your privacy is coded into our DNA, and we built WhatsApp around the goal of knowing as little about you as possible: You don’t have to give us your name and we don’t ask for your email address. We don’t know your birthday. We don’t know your home address. We don’t know where you work. We don’t know your likes, what you search for on the internet or collect your GPS location. None of that data has ever been collected and stored by WhatsApp, and we really have no plans to change that.

If partnering with Facebook meant that we had to change our values, we wouldn’t have done it. Instead, we are forming a partnership that would allow us to continue operating independently and autonomously. Our fundamental values and beliefs will not change. Our principles will not change. Everything that has made WhatsApp the leader in personal messaging will still be in place. Speculation to the contrary isn’t just baseless and unfounded, it’s irresponsible. It has the effect of scaring people into thinking we’re suddenly collecting all kinds of new data. That’s just not true, and it’s important to us that you know that.

Make no mistake: our future partnership with Facebook will not compromise the vision that brought us to this point. Our focus remains on delivering the promise of WhatsApp far and wide, so that people around the world have the freedom to speak their mind without fear.


Facebook

Almost five years ago we started WhatsApp with a simple mission: building a cool product used globally by everybody. Nothing else mattered to us.

Today we are announcing a partnership with Facebook that will allow us to continue on that simple mission. Doing this will give WhatsApp the flexibility to grow and expand, while giving me, Brian, and the rest of our team more time to focus on building a communications service that’s as fast, affordable and personal as possible.

Here’s what will change for you, our users: nothing.

WhatsApp will remain autonomous and operate independently. You can continue to enjoy the service for a nominal fee. You can continue to use WhatsApp no matter where in the world you are, or what smartphone you’re using. And you can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product.

On a personal note, Brian and I couldn’t be more proud to be part of a small team of people who, in just under five years, built a communication service that now supports over 450 million monthly active users worldwide and over 320 million daily active users. They have helped re-define and revolutionize communication for the 21st century, and we couldn’t be more grateful.

Our team has always believed that neither cost and distance should ever prevent people from connecting with their friends and loved ones, and won’t rest until everyone, everywhere is empowered with that opportunity. We want to thank all of our users and everybody in our lives for making this next chapter possible, and for joining us as we continue on this very special journey.


400 Million Stories

A few short years ago, my friend Brian and I set out to build a messaging service with a single focus: best possible user experience. We bet that if our team of engineers could make messaging fast, simple, and personal, we could charge people directly for the service without having to rely on annoying banner ads, game promotions, or all those other distracting “features” that come with many messaging apps.

Today, we’re proud to announce that because of you, WhatsApp has reached a milestone that no other mobile messaging service has achieved: 400 million monthly active users, with 100 million active users added in the last four months alone. This isn’t a count of people who just registered for WhatsApp – it’s the number of people who are actively using the service every single month.

When we say that you made this possible, we mean it. WhatsApp has just 50 employees, and most of us are engineers. We’ve arrived at this point without spending a dollar on targeted ads or big marketing campaigns. We’re here because of all the people who share their WhatsApp stories with co-workers, friends, and loved ones – stories we love to hear.

There was the woman from New Zealand who moved to South Africa to complete her PhD. The week before she left to go back home, she met the man of her dreams. Despite living thousands of miles apart, she told us that WhatsApp has allowed them to feel closer than ever.

We also heard from a British woman who runs a charity in Uganda. She told us that her team on the ground uses WhatsApp to send daily reports, photos, and videos of the children they’re helping, which she shares to build support for her organization all over the world.

Doctors in India are using WhatsApp to instantly send electrocardiogram pictures of patients who’ve suffered heart attacks, saving valuable time and potentially lives. In the mountains of Madrid, rescuers used WhatsApp to locate and save lost hikers. And today, as I follow the unfolding political crisis in Ukraine, the place where I was born and lived until the age of sixteen, I can’t help but hope that the next great WhatsApp story will be about people using the service to speak their mind and stand up for their basic rights.

Our goal in creating WhatsApp was to empower people through technology and communication, no matter who they are, or where they live. We wanted to improve people’s lives in some small way. So thank you for making that possible. Thank you for sharing your stories, and please, keep them coming – we can’t wait to hear what you’ll use WhatsApp for next.


Introducing Voice Messages

We spend a lot of time at WhatsApp thinking how we can make keeping in touch easier, and we know there’s no substitute for hearing the sound of a friend or family member’s voice. So today we are introducing a new feature we are truly excited about: Voice Messages.

We are releasing Voice Messages on all of our platforms simultaneously. We worked very hard to make sure that iPhone and Android devices have perfectly working Voice Messages functionality, and we put extra effort into making sure that BlackBerry, Nokia and Windows Phone users can enjoy the same rich and powerful Voice Messaging experience.

To learn more about Voice Message and how it works, take a look at this video we made:

You can also read our FAQ entry if you want to learn more about Voice Messages for your specific phone:

http://www.whatsapp.com/faq/link/voice_messaging.php

We hope you will enjoy Voice Messages as much as we enjoyed building it.


iPhone v2.10.1 release notes

Today we released a new version of WhatsApp for iPhone. This is our first update this year and it brings a few major changes we’re excited to tell you about.

First, we are updating our business model for new iPhone users going forward. As you know, we used to charge iPhone users a $.99 one time payment, while Android and other platforms had free service for the first year and paid $0.99 a year after that. From now on, we’ve simplified our business model so that all users on all platforms will enjoy their first year of WhatsApp service for free, and only pay $.99 per year after that. We feel that this model will allow us to become the communications service of the 21st century, and provide you the best way to stay in touch with your friends and family with no ads getting in the way. The good news for all current iPhone users is that WhatsApp will be free of charge for the rest of your life.

Second, we’ve added an option to backup your message history to iCloud. We spent the last six months working to make iCloud backup as simple and user friendly as possible. On your iPhone, go into ‘WhatsApp Settings > Chat Settings > Chat Backup’ if you want to back up your conversation history. When you reinstall the app, you will be prompted to restore from iCloud during the initialization process.

Third, since we’re engineers at heart, we’ve introduced developer hooks into WhatsApp. We’ve had many other iOS developers ask us for API hooks to make interfacing with WhatsApp easy. Now you can do that. Learn more at http://www.whatsapp.com/faq/en/iphone/23559013

That’s all folks. We hope you will enjoy this new release.


Life’s Change Agent and the iPhone 3G

Many people are asking why we’ve stopped supporting the iPhone 3G. It’s because Apple has stopped supporting old iOS versions and old iPhones in their most recent version 4.5 of Xcode, which is the tool (the only tool) that engineers use to make iPhone apps.

The iPhone 3G has a special place for me in my heart – it was the first smartphone I bought in January of 2009 and it was the first phone on which we started developing WhatsApp just a month later.

Then as now, however, we must follow Apple’s lead on all things related to the iPhone. Their pace of innovation has a price of forced obsolescence.


Pourquoi nous ne vendons pas de pub

Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.
– Tyler Durden, Fight Club

 

À nous deux, Brian et moi avons passé 20 ans chez Yahoo, travaillant dur au bon fonctionnement du site. Et aussi oui, travaillant dur à vendre de la pub, parce que c’était ce que Yahoo faisait : recueillir des données, la publication de pages et la vendre de la publicité.

Nous avons été témoins du déclin de Yahoo tandis que continuaient à grandir la taille et l’audience de Google, vendeur d’espaces publicitaires plus efficace et plus rentable. Google savait ce que les utilisateurs recherchaient, pouvant ainsi recueillir plus efficacement des données sur ces derniers et afficher de meilleures publicités.

De nos jours, les entreprises savent pratiquement tout sur vous, vos amis, vos centres d’intérêt et elles utilisent ces données pour vendre de la publicité.

Lorsque nous avons pris la décision de commencer ce projet il y a trois ans, nous voulions créer quelque chose qui ne serait pas juste une autre agence de publicité. Nous voulions consacrer notre temps à développer un service que des gens voudraient utiliser parce qu’il fonctionnerait, leur ferait économiser de l’argent et, à une modeste échelle, améliorerait leur vie quotidienne. Nous savions que, si nous pouvions atteindre ces objectifs,  nous pourrions facturer directement les utilisateurs. Nous savions que nous pouvions faire ce que la plupart des gens essayent de faire constamment : éviter la pub.

Personne ne se réveille le matin enthousiaste à l’idée de subir davantage de publicité. Personne ne s’endort en pensant aux pubs du lendemain. Ce qui satisfait les gens quand ils vont se coucher, c’est d’avoir pu discuter avec quelqu’un (et qui les déçoit lorsque ça n’a pas pu être le cas). Nous aimerions que WhatsApp soit le produit de vos nuits blanches… et la première application que vous consultez à votre réveil. Après tout, personne ne saute du lit pour regarder de la pub.

La publicité n’est pas juste une perturbation d’ordre esthétique, une insulte à votre intelligence et une interruption du cours de vos pensées. Dans n’importe quelle entreprise où on vend des espaces publicitaires, une partie non négligeable des ingénieurs passent leur journée à perfectionner l’exploration de données, à améliorer leurs programmes pour extraire encore davantage d’informations sur leurs utilisateurs, à mettre à niveau les serveurs où sont stockées ces données pour s’assurer que tout est bien archivé, organisé, trié et analysé… Le résultat ? Un bandeau publicitaire à peine différent dans votre navigateur web, sur l’écran de votre ordinateur ou de votre mobile.

N’oubliez pas que lorsqu’il s’agit de publicité, le produit, c’est vous, l’utilisateur.

Chez WhatsApp, nos ingénieurs passent l’intégralité de leur temps à résoudre des bogues, à ajouter des fonctionnalités et à peaufiner tous les détails afin de fournir un système de messagerie fiable à n’importe quel téléphone dans le monde entier. C’est notre produit et notre passion. Vos données n’entrent même pas en ligne de compte. Elles ne nous intéressent pas.

Quand on nous demande pourquoi nous facturons les utilisateurs de WhatsApp, nous répondons : « Avez-vous une autre solution ? »


Sending Places and Group Icons

Today we wanted to write a blog post about two new exciting features we have recently introduced. We hope you will enjoy them and use them frequently.

Send place

First feature is an improvement on the current « Share Location » functionality. Historically our « Share Location » functionality allowed you to send your location to your chat partner or to your group chat. It is useful if you want to share your approximate location on a map. We got a lot of feedback asking for ability to share a specific place – for example, when you waiting to meet friends in a bar, at a restaurant or some other physical place. We have added this feature on top of the existing « Share Location » functionality. Now when you use « Share Location », you can either send your Current Location right away or wait a few seconds for places near you to load and pick from. If you haven’t used « Share Location » before, this graphics shows you how to get to Share Location menu on iPhone, BlackBerry or Android devices:

Send media

Once you enter « Share Location » menu, you will be presented with an option to send your Current Location immediately as you have always been able to in the past. Alternatively, if you wait a few seconds, you will be presented with a list of places nearby. Once you select the place to send, it will appear in the conversation. You can tap on the name of the place to get more information about it or you can tap on the map thumbnail to view the place on the map. This is what selecting places and viewing places looks like on the iPhone:

iPhone Places Menu

This is what selecting places and viewing places looks like on the Android:

Android Places Menu

This is what selecting places and viewing places looks like on the BlackBerry:

BlackBerry Places Menu

Group Icon

Second new feature we want to talk about is ability to set a Group Icon for your group chat. We wanted to give all of you the ability to personalize your group chat by attaching a custom icon to your group. For example, if you have a group chat about soccer, you can use a photo of a soccer ball as the group icon.

Anybody can set or change the group icon when viewing Group Info. This is how you get into the Group Info:

Group Info

Once you enter Group Info, simply tap or click on the Group Icon to set it or change it:

Group Icon

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more cool and innovative features as we continue to iterate and improve our product.


It is a hoax. Really, it is.

We have been getting a lot of emails and questions from you about this chain letter message circulating in our network:

WhatsApp is going to cost us money soon. The only way that it will stay free is if you are a frequent user i.e. you have at least 10 people you are chatting with. To become a frequent user send this message to 10 people who receive it (2 ticks) and your WhatsApp logo should turn Red to indicate a frequent user.

Please understand that this is a hoax and there is no truth to it. While we are flattered that we made it to Hoax Slayer, we would rather work on cool new features instead of debunking silly stories like these.

UPDATE: this is a hoax message as well:

« Whatsapp is shutting down on 28th jan Message from Jim Balsamic (CEO of Whatsapp) we have had an over usage of user names on whatsapp Messenger. We are requesting all users to forward this message to their entire contact list. If you do not forward this message, we will take it as your account is invalid and it will be deleted within the next 48 hours. Please DO NOT ignore this message or whatsapp will no longer recognise your activation. If you wish to re-activate your account after it has been deleted, a charge of 25.00 will be added to your monthly bill. We are also aware of the issue involving the pictures updates not showing. We are working diligently at fixing this problem and it will be up and running as soon as possible. Thank you for your cooperation from the Whatsapp team »


1 million is so 2011

 

Happy 2012 everyone!

A few months ago we published a blog post that talked about our servers doing 1 million tcp connections on a single box: http://blog.whatsapp.com/?p=170

Today we have an update for those keeping score at home: we are now able to easily push our systems to over 2 million tcp connections!


jkb@c123$ sysctl kern.ipc.numopensockets
kern.ipc.numopensockets: 2277845

Best part is that we are able to do it with plenty of CPU and memory to spare and do it sustainably:


CPU: 37.9% user,  0.0% nice, 13.6% system,  6.6% interrupt, 41.9% idle
Mem: 35G Active, 14G Inact, 18G Wired, 4K Cache, 9838M Buf, 27G Free

 

This time we also wanted to share some more technical details with you about hardware, OS and software:


hw.machine: amd64
hw.model: Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU X5675 @ 3.07GHz
hw.ncpu: 24
hw.physmem: 103062118400
hw.usermem: 100556451840


jkb@c123$ uname -rps
FreeBSD 8.2-STABLE amd64
jkb@c123$ cat /boot/loader.conf.local
boot_verbose=""
kern.hwpmc.nbuffers=32
kern.hwpmc.nsamples=64
kern.ipc.maxsockets=2400000
kern.maxfiles=3000000
kern.maxfilesperproc=2700000
kern.maxproc=16384
kern.timecounter.smp_tsc=1
net.inet.tcp.tcbhashsize=524288
net.inet.tcp.hostcache.hashsize=4096
net.inet.tcp.hostcache.cachelimit=131072
net.inet.tcp.hostcache.bucketlimit=120

and the last important piece of our infrastracture is Erlang:

8> erlang:system_info(system_version).
"Erlang R14B03 (erts-5.8.4) [source] [64-bit] [smp:24:24] [rq:24] [async-threads:0] [kernel-poll:false]\n"

 

P.S. – we are hiring in both client and server teams, so send your resume to jobs at whatsapp dot com if you are interested (.. and we are also looking for summer interns)