( this is a continuation of my blog series ‘Becoming 30’ .If you would like to read others just click on the latest blogs post below for more and don’t forget to follow like a subscribe for updates by the Yenner.com. Thank-you)
Jan Koum is a Ukrainian entrepreneur who’s story combines tenacity, strength determination and most of all hope for all those who still don’t think they have reached there potential by 30.
His early years in the small town of Kiev was one of heartache, political Semitic strife and poverty.
With no hot running water and bare necessities to live on, the family where under strict laws. They did not even have access to a telephone in fear of being tapped or spied upon. It would not be until Koum was 16 that he would begin a long life changing journey to America with his mother. They moved to Mountain View whilst his father stayed behind due to the political climates that time. This now young teenager had such strength and perseverance throughout this distressing time. He would clean stores for low pay, whilst his mother who was diagnosed with cancer received government allowances whilst babysitting for neighbours to earn a living.
Although their means to get by would be heartbreaking story for most, it was Koums intellect and determination to do better that inspired me.
At the age of 18 he could speak fluent English and had also began to learn Computer coding by self teaching from books he had bought I. His early days in the US.
His time and effort spent on himself would eventually pay off for him and his future and with the death of both his parents by 2000, his mum from cancer and his father in 97’ , would cause Koum to become a no nonsense mogul. A person with nothing to lose but everything to gain. It is with the this inner strength and people who have been through the worst that usually become a forced of nature.
However focusing back on his time at Mountain View with his mother, Koum attended San Jose university and as a side hustle he became a security technician.
He would be a rebel teen and would not attach to rules much which involved him in an underground network of relay chats such as woo woo on effort internet. Through these chats and gaining experience it wasn’t long until Koum could access sensitive areas and other relay chats which would be his first attempt at per suing his dream career.
Managing to hack into Silicon Valley’s servers he began a conversation with Sean Fanning owner or Napster and began sharing coding advice and ideas but it would lead to a dead end.
However it would be a technical call out to Yahoo that would change Koums life.
In 1997 Yahoo called upon a young Jan to inspect there systems and an Employee called Acton would be the customer.This intersection between the two men that would led to Koums employment with the firm and eventual partnership with Acton in business later on in years.
In fact his reports reached the head of Yahoo and Due to a crash in systems in the early 00s they required him to work full time to which Koum jumped at the chance to do and dropped out of university as a result.
This would prove to be a valuable choice on Koums part as he knew he was playing towards his strength and know how.
However a few years later Koum became bored with his engineer lifestyle and began to subside to talks with others about creating something new.
In 2009 Apple would introduce the IPhone app service and where searching for new potentials. this gave Koum an idea for a creation which he shared with close friends at social events. it became apparent by his reported no nonsense attitude that very few people disagreed with Koums ideas
They admired his factual confidence in himself and were willing to experiment with his ideas and find a way to make them work. Although he was in talks with Russian friends about an optimistic venture his personal life meant that Koum found it hard to find a focus or direction to go in. With both him and Acton lacking excitement with their current job in Yahoo they both decided to leave the firm in 2007 and travel in order to refocus and regain inspiration.
This choice to remove himself from the early processes of business to some would seem absurd given he had every chance at success. In my opinion I believe unless your mental ability is in power with your working ability there is no success. This can be said for Koum as he returned fresh and determined and in 2009 co founded WhatsApp February 24th, his birthday.
Koum did bite the bullet and founded a concept however no coding had been created and within the first few months after use with friends etc it became apparent that without growth in number prefix across the country or globe it would be a slow and steady beginning for the company.
From here Koums course was slow but set. With sponsor ships more negotiations and the eventual release of Push notifications from Apple in 2009 WhatsApp witnessed substantial growth in both customers, profit and access.
Competition with BBM blackberry and Skype was small as Koum had managed to find a concept that would not only surpass normal messaging but make it easier for customers to know what people where up to and if they were free to call with the status idea for example….’I’m busy, ‘or….‘I’m sleeping’.
With this personal and free touch to their app over 180 countries fueled Koums creation.
To date WhatsApp holds
- 1.5 billion active users
- 1 million new registrations daily
- Over 300 million daily users.
That’s quite the result for Koums simplistic idea all them years ago.
Since then Koum is no one of the wealthiest men in the world with a claim to $9.5 billion in his name.
He recently sold his shares of the company along with his business partner Acton to Facebook for $19 billion.
The irony of this decision is that years previous during Koum and Actons time off they applied for Facebooka a employees and were rejected.
Now he is getting paid $19 billion by the owner Mark zuckerberg.
At 41 years old Koums life is a story of tragedy to triumph and through it all it was down to his own perseverance and direct attitude .He knew what he wanted and he went for it no matter how hard or if he failed. You don’t just have to get by in life or figure out what you want to do when you 20 Koum himself did not achieve anything until his 30s and with any opportunity he seized it and turned it into his own.
Safe to say he won’t be fearful of never having running water again .
Thanks for reading
The Yenner 📠
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