The rapid rise of WhatsApp to 900 million users

Today, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum announced that the messaging app is removing its subscription fee of $1 per year.

As this chart from Statista shows, that subscription service could have been very lucrative for Facebook, which bought the company for $19 billion in 2014 — if people had actually paid for it. But according to leaked documents, the company only made $15 million in subscription revenue for the first half of 2014, despite having more than 400 million users.

Instead, WhatsApp will follow the path of Facebook Messenger, and try to spread as widely as possible before figuring out how to make money. One likely path is to allow consumers and businesses to communicate — for instance, people could make a restaurant reservation or be notified when a delivery is arriving directly within the app.

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