WhatsApp founder accuses advertising of 'insulting your intelligence'

WhatsApp: founder Jan Koum rejects the use of advertising
WhatsApp: founder Jan Koum rejects the use of advertising

The founder of instant messaging service WhatsApp has labelled ads "insults to your intelligence", which only result in an inferior product.

Jan Koum lays out why he and co-founder Brian Acton have rejected advertising, in blog post entitled "Why we don’t sell ads", which leads off with a derogatory quote about advertising by the fictional character Tyler Durden from the novel and movie, 'Fight Club'.

Koum claims "no one wakes up excited to see more advertising" whereas people do "go to sleep excited about who they chatted with that day [and] we want WhatsApp to be the product that keeps you awake".

Koum and Acton worked as engineers at Yahoo for 20 years between them and, as a result, did not want to make something that was "just another ad clearinghouse".

WhatsApp’s popularity has exploded and is now the major rival of BlackBerry Messenger (BBM), which is being released on the iOS and Android platforms this summer as it seeks to stay relevant.

In a strongly worded attack, Koum accused brands of ruining the user experience because, when advertising is involved, the user was the product.

He said:  "Advertising isn’t just the disruption of aesthetics, the insults to your intelligence and the interruption of your train of thought.

"At every company that sells ads, a significant portion of their engineering team spends their day tuning data mining, writing better code to collect all your personal data, upgrading the servers that hold all the data and making sure it’s all being logged and collated and sliced and packaged and shipped out."


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