Quick overview of the Messaging app market:
- WeChat – 300 millions (launch in Jan 2011)
- WhatsApp – 250 millions (launch in 2009, estimate $20 million revenue per month)
- LINE – 200 millions (launch in June 2011) ($30+ million revenue per month)
- Viber – 200 millions (launch in Dec. 2010)
- Tango – 130 millions (launch in Sep. 2010)
- KakaoTalks – 100 millions (launch in Mar. 2010; $30 million revenue per month)
Do you see it? The 2 latest comers in the games are already #1 and #3 in users. Wouldn’t you be scared if you were Whatsapp?
And even scarier, these 2 Asian apps are supported by 2 monsters of the Internet: Tencent (WeChat) the leader in China – and #1 internet global internet company is market cap – and NHN (Line) the leader in South Korea.
We are all prepared to the typical VC question: “What would you do if Google/Facebook go in your market?”.
Well, here’s a new one… What would you do if the Google of China AND of Korea go in your market, at the same time and very aggressively?”
With a limited team of 45 and no intention to develop further their monetization model – Jan Koum specifically said he was not interested in developing stickers – I don’t see any outcome for Whatsapp than selling to Google or Facebook. And selling fast before they lose more ground in USA and globally and that the company value start depreciating.
Moreover Whatsapp faces the competition of another strong Silicon Valley based Messaging app, Tango, in the race for acquisition. Whatsapp has a strong hold globally (see cool pictograph here) but Tango already start his monetization transformation, becoming more social and game oriented. That is why Whatsapp has to act fast if Jan wants to get the best prize for his 4-years-old company.
Rumors said negotiation as been going on with Google for a month…But I would think that Facebook will be more willing to give a better valuation. They have the money and are in need of a great social mobile app much more than Google.
What I am expecting is that it shouldn’t be long until an acquisition news come by…
[Update from Jan. 2014 : http://techcrunch.com/2014/02/19/facebooks-19-billion-whatsapp-acquisition-contextualized/ ]
Some cool articles:
As Google acquisition rumors grow, is WhatsApp really worth a billion dollars? (VentureBeat, 8 April 2013)
WhatsApp knows about stickers and Asian chat apps. It doesn’t care about them, and it doesn’t have to. (TheNextWeb, 8 August 2013)
Korea’s Kakao Talk becomes the latest Asian mobile messaging app to pass 100 million users (TheNextWeb, 2 July 2013)
Viber founder: ‘People should be concerned about privacy’ (Thegardian, 30 August 2013)
With Nearly 200M Users, Messaging App LINE Is Gunning For The U.S. (Forbes, 12 July 2013)
WhatsApp Surpasses 250 Million Active Users (WSJ, 20 June 2013)
$19B in Feb 2014 🙂