July 26, 2021

By the way, why is WhatsApp called WhatsApp?

You probably use WhatsApp, but do you know where its name comes from?

It is the most widely used instant messaging app in the world, according to figures from February 2021, with 2 billion members. It is also the service that cost Facebook the most, as it took $ 19 billion to get your hands on it. Even the other tech giants, like Google, Apple, Amazon, or Microsoft, haven’t spent so much money all at once on such a take.

You guessed it: this is WhatsApp. Launched in 2009 by Jan Koum and Brian Acton, the program has established itself as a staple of the discussion for a huge number of people – although, in recent times, voices have been raised against Facebook’s plans to tighten up its links with its subsidiary, with an ongoing controversy over the future conditions of service.

Today Jan Koum and Brian Acton no longer work at WhatsApp. Brian Acton is even very upset against Facebook, long before the affair of the TOS, and is now working in favor of a rival application, Signal. He even paid him $ 50 million and joined a foundation to oversee his development. The fact remains that the two men will remain de facto linked to the history of WhatsApp.

Whatsapp wallpaper
WhatsApp is used by two billion people around the world. // Source: WhatsApp

What’s up ?

A story that also includes a little anecdote – anecdote whose answer is not very hard to find, but which nevertheless suits our series on the Names of Tech very well. Do you know where the name WhatsApp comes from? One might be tempted to think of this as some sort of portmanteau for “Whats that app?” (“What is this app?”) And you would have been correct if it had been.

But no. In fact, you weren’t that far away: the answer, slipped into the About the company page, shows that it is indeed a portmanteau, doubled as a play on words, since it is the expression “What’s Up?” “(” What’s new? “) Which served as a base, replacing” Up “by” App “, with a similar sound, and to signify that it is a mobile application that we are talking about. That’s all !

Some will say that Brian Acton and Jan Koum did not look very far to baptize their application. But since it is an instant messaging system, what lacks originality is offset by the nature of their project, where participants are invited to give their contacts their news. And then it could have been worse: Wassup, or even Wazza. But a famous brand of beers has positioned itself before.

Who’s who

Photo credit of the one:
Photo Nelly Lesage for Numerama

Share on social media

The continuation in video