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The Latest Message From WhatsApp

What happens when you combine the world’s largest social network with one of the largest messaging systems? The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Dean spoke to two men who know: the co-founders of WhatsApp, Brian Acton and Jan Koum. Edited excerpts of their conversation follow.

MR. DEAN: It’s been two years since Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp for $22 billion. What’s the single biggest change for you two?

MR. KOUM: It’s surprising how little has changed. We still get to build the product we want to build. We still get to work on features we want to work on.

MR. DEAN: Privacy’s been at the center of WhatsApp from the beginning. But you went from initially saying, “We’re not going to give Facebook access to your data,” to saying, “We’re going to share some of it on a limited basis.” And a lot of people were worried.

MR. KOUM: There are two things that are really important for people to understand. First, we earlier this year rolled out end-to-end encryption. No. 2, we never really had a lot of information about our users to begin with. We never asked our users for their names, their gender, their age, where they live. So it’s not like we had this wealth of information that we were sitting on.

MR. ACTON: We wouldn’t be able to leverage Facebook’s spam-detection system if we weren’t doing some information sharing with Facebook.

MR. DEAN: You have more than one billion users but still no revenue to speak of. You are working toward commercial messaging. What is that?

MR. KOUM: We think that we did a fairly good job on the consumer aspect of the way people communicate. But as you go around about your daily life, there is business communication that happens. You’re late for your...


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