They built a product. Built it well. Found customers who loved it.
They built a scalable product. Leveraged their expertise of working at yahoo to make it scale. It was not always scalable or available. Their service was down for days at a time in the past.
They solved the problems that came up. When security holes were found, they patched them…sometimes well, sometimes with a hack until they found a permanent solution.
Their scalability skills would have looked lame from April 2009 to November 2009 when they didn’t have enough customers or reasons to scale.
They bucked the trend and stayed true to their core principles…their own core principles. No advertising, No gimmicks, No games.
No one put a gun to their head and asked them to make those core principles. Those core principles were there, not because those happened to be the most popular ones in the valley that year.
May be they didn’t even have all 3 core principles when they started.
May be just one - ‘No advertising’, which came from the founders hatred of having worked at an ad driven company - Yahoo.
From 2009 to 2014, Google grew from 100 billion dollar company to 400 billion dollar company selling advertisements….probably questioning the sanity of whatsapp founders and them sticking to their core principle.
May be they felt it was their differentiator against the competition.
There will be another billion dollar acquisition soon enough in the future and people/media would be all over it. We will be counting the billions the founders made, the millions of dollars each employee made, how, Google/Facebook/Amazon/Apple/Microsoft/etc are stupid for paying that much money.
The previous one was Nest.
The one before that was Instagram.
Most of us have no idea of what it took, to make a simple SMS type app, believe in it enough to commit working full time, scale it to be able to send 27 billion messages a day, acquire 400 million customers and keep them happy or sit across the table from Mark Zuckerberg and ask for a seat on the board of directors at Facebook in addition to the 19 billion they grudgingly agreed to offer.