Apple And Google Are Hosting Fake Crypto Apps Designed To Defraud Investors


In recent years, apps that enable cryptocurrency fraud have popped up on Apple’s App Store and on Google Play. In some cases, they’re meant to spoof legitimate apps and trick users into giving up their login credentials, while others provide a medium to false exchange platforms. In either case, real people are getting their crypto stolen.

On Thursday, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee sent nearly identical letters to Apple and Google, seeking explanations as to how these tech giants are evaluating and ultimately allowing these types of trading apps that seemingly enable cryptocurrency fraud. The letters came hours before the committee held a hearing on “scams and risks in crypto and securities markets.”

Neither Apple nor Google immediately responded to a request for comment, but both companies do not allow apps to impersonate bona fide apps or to engage in illegal or fraudulent activity. However, last month, Apple said it stopped nearly $1.5 billion in fraudulent transactions in 2021, and noted that its App Store is the “safest place to find and download apps.”

Chairman Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who authored the letters, noted that it is “imperative” that app stores have “proper safeguards” to mitigate fraud. The companies have until August 10 to respond.One such app, known as Metatrader 5, which is still available on both companies’ app stores, has been linked to alleged cryptocurrency scams.

Often, a scammer will begin to lure a victim through an unsolicited text message or a message on LinkedIn. Sometimes they start messaging a victim on a dating app. After engaging the person in conversation for a time, the scammer will usually direct their victim to buy cryptocurrency from a legitimate company, like Coinbase, and then instruct the victim to send it to a purported exchange mediated through an app like Metatrader.

There, the attacker can lure the victim into believing that they have made profits. However, when the victim tries to withdraw their money, they will ultimately find that they cannot do so. One California-based victim, whose identity Forbes is withholding at his request, said that after he lost $1.2 million late last year via a scam and purported trades made on Metatrader, he had suicidal thoughts.

“On my way to my parents’ house in San Francisco, I had this thought of ramming the car into a barrier and just let that be and let God decide whether I would live through this or I would die,” he told Forbes. Metatrader’s website lists no phone number for any of its offices around the globe. Forbes left a message on what appears to be its Cypriot headquarters voicemail and sent emails to multiple email addresses linked to the company. The company did not immediately respond.

Earlier this month, the FBI issued a formal warning to the public, noting that at least 244 victims had collectively lost $42.7 million through such fake apps. According to the Federal Trade Commission, related losses from romance scams, many carried out using online dating sites, have “skyrocketed” recently. Last year, reported losses reached an all-time high of $547 million. A subset of these romance scams involve cryptocurrency, and are sometimes known as “pig butchering” scams, in which victims are enticed to put in more and more money into a fraudulent crypto app—fattening them up—before the scammers abscond with vast sums of cryptocurrency.

The FTC also reported that in 2021, crypto payments to scammers jumped five-fold—reaching $139 million—between 2020 and 2021. Last month, the Global Anti-Scam Organization, an advocacy group, told Forbes that it is extremely rare for victims to be able to recover their lost funds. “I’ve talked to 50 people in the last six months,” said Arlo Kipfer, a Seattle attorney who has also consulted with scam victims on how to move forward. “The most heartbreaking thing is they bleed the victims dry—the odds of recovery are still low.”

I cover Silicon Valley — in particular surveillance technology and artificial intelligence — from beautiful Oakland,

Source: Apple And Google Are Hosting Fake Crypto Apps Designed To ‘Defraud Investors,’ Senator Says

Critics by

The United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has issued a public warning about fraudulent cryptocurrency applications, which have swindled U.S. investors out of an estimated $42.7 million so far. According to an advisory published on Monday by the securities and intelligence agency, cybercriminals have created apps using the same logos and identifying information as legitimate crypto companies to defraud investors. The FBI noted that 244 people had already fallen victim to these fake apps.

One case saw cyber criminals convincing victims to download an app that used the same logo as an actual U.S. financial institution, encouraging them to deposit cryptocurrency into wallets purportedly related to their accounts. When victims attempted to withdraw from the app, they would be asked to pay taxes on their withdrawals. However, this was just another ruse to part more funds from victims, as even if they made the payments, the withdrawals would continue to be unavailable.

Around $3.7 million was defrauded from 28 victims between December 2021 and May 2022, said the FBI. Another similar operation saw cybercriminals operating under the company name “YiBit,” defrauding at least four victims of around $5.5 million between October 2021 and May 2022, using a similar method of deceit. A third case involved criminals operating under the name “Supay” in November 2021. They defrauded two victims by encouraging them to deposit cryptocurrency into their wallets on the app, which would then be frozen unless more funds were deposited.

Warnings about fraudulent apps have also made the rounds on Crypto Twitter. One user said a friend recently fell victim to a scam that started on the online messenger service WhatsApp, which encouraged the victim to download a fake crypto app and load funds into the app’s wallet. A week later, the crypto app vanished.

Another user says they have fallen victim to a fake Ledger Live crypto wallet app, reportedly called “Ledger Live Plus,” in the Microsoft app store. The user claims the fraudulent app has already stolen $20,000 from him.  Earlier this year, cybersecurity firm ESET uncovered a “sophisticated scheme” that would distribute Trojan applications disguised as popular cryptocurrency wallets. These applications would then attempt to steal crypto assets from their victims. 

Last year, a scam cryptocurrency app dressed up as a mobile Trezor app on Apple’s App Store reportedly led to one user losing $600,000 in Bitcoin (BTC) at the time. A report from the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in June 2022 found that as much as $1 billion in crypto has been lost to scammers since 2021, with nearly half of all crypto-related scams originating from social media platforms.

The FBI has recommended crypto investors be wary of unsolicited requests to download investment apps, verify an app (and the company) is legitimate, and treat apps with limited and/or broken functionality “with skepticism.”

Related contents:

Apple And Google Under U.S. Senate Scrutiny For Crypto App Fraud Bitcoinist.com

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Wall Street Still Loves Big Tech Stocks: Analysts See Further Upside Ahead Of Crucial Earnings Week

Despite a brutal selloff so far this year in the tech sector, Wall Street analysts remain cautiously optimistic about Big Tech stocks ahead of upcoming second-quarter earnings this week, with the majority of experts predicting that companies like Apple, Microsoft and Alphabet can continue to post strong profits in the long run.

Though tech stocks have been hard-hit this year (with the Nasdaq down 25%) amid surging inflation, rising interest rates and ongoing recession fears, a majority of Wall Street analysts still maintain buy ratings on Apple, Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft and Amazon ahead of key earnings results this week.

Three firms reiterated buy ratings on several big names Monday: Deutsche Bank predicted solid results from Apple, Bank of America expects Facebook parent Meta to see ad revenue take a smaller hit than expected and Oppenheimer predicts “robust” growth in Amazon’s AWS cloud services business.

Analysts note that while the tech sector is already slowing down, hiring across the board amid the more challenging economic environment, after a big selloff earlier this year, valuations are now looking much more attractive.

Netflix and Tesla saw their stocks rally last week after “better than feared” results, while Snap delivered “another train wreck quarter that highlights a digital ad slowdown, Apple iOS privacy headwinds and TikTok competition further heating up,” according to Wedbush analyst Dan Ives.

While there’s been some “good and bad news” in the tech sector, “there are some encouraging signs” and investors can now buy shares in some of the biggest companies at a more attractive entry point, says Lindsey Bell, chief markets and money strategist for Ally.

Among the more than 250 combined analysts covering the five Big Tech companies reporting earnings this week—Apple, Alphabet, Meta, Microsoft and Amazon—fewer than five have sell ratings—a sign of just how bullish Wall Street is on some of America’s most valuable tech companies.

Alphabet and Microsoft kick off Big Tech earnings on Tuesday. Meta reports Wednesday, Apple and Amazon on Thursday. “Investors should be selective when picking stocks within the tech sector,” says David Trainer, CEO of New Constructs. “The strongest types of stocks are the ones where cash flows are strong and valuations underestimate the company’s ability to generate cash flows in the future.”

He especially likes Google parent Alphabet, which is trading at a “much cheaper” valuation than its peers and should continue to outperform, thanks to its ability to keep innovating. Trainer is “not as confident” about Facebook parent Meta, however, questioning the company’s “ability to sustain profits,” especially as it struggles to retain users amid increased competition from the likes of TikTok. His firm also remains bullish and “big fans” of Apple, though the stock is still somewhat expensive, he adds.

All of the Big Tech stocks have seen big losses so far this year, though they have recovered somewhat in recent months. Meta has suffered the greatest losses, with its market value falling by roughly half as Facebook’s ad business continues to struggle. Amazon and Alphabet are both down roughly 25%, Microsoft more than 20% and Apple 15%.

I am a senior reporter at Forbes covering markets and business news. Previously, I worked on the wealth team at Forbes covering billionaires and their wealth.

Source: Wall Street Still Loves Big Tech Stocks: Analysts See Further Upside Ahead Of Crucial Earnings Week

Critics by

In a single two-and-a-half-hour stretch on Jan. 25, Microsoft Corp. stock erased $156 billion of its shareholders’ money, then rebounded, recovering all of its losses and adding $74 billion. In one sense this was just another lurch in the markets’ wild ride in 2022, as investors adjust to recovering economies and the prospect of rising interest rates. But it also points to a new environment in which the most valuable U.S. tech companies are going to have to work harder to justify their trillion-dollar or near-trillion-dollar valuations.

The Big Tech companies are still doing well. The day after Microsoft’s earnings, Apple reported a quarterly performance that wildly exceeded expectations. On Feb. 1, Alphabet also beat analysts’ projections. Share prices for both companies spiked—but remain below their peaks. The way Microsoft’s white-knuckle afternoon played out is particularly illustrative of the shifting environment: At 4 p.m. New York time, it released quarterly financial results.

They exceeded analysts’ expectations, except for one crucial number: Growth slowed slightly at its lucrative Azure cloud computing business. Investors panicked, sending shares down as much as 6.8% in aftermarket trading. Shortly after 6 p.m., Chief Financial Officer Amy Hood told analysts that cloud computing growth would accelerate again in the next fiscal quarter. The stock jumped, erasing the earlier losses.

Short-term stock gyrations have limited predictive power. But the activity around Microsoft’s earnings highlighted how negatively investors are now inclined to react to slowing growth at key units, even if revenue and earnings beat expectations.

A standard way to look at how excited investors are about a particular company is to compare its share price with its expected earnings. In January 2017 the stocks of the five most valuable tech companies—Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—traded in line with the S&P 500 as a whole, at 19 times their predicted earnings. By September 2020 that multiple for the Big Tech companies was 42, while the market as a whole traded at a 27 multiple.

Investors were rewarded. Apple shareholders enjoyed an average 43% annual return over the past five years if they reinvested all their dividends back into the stock. Microsoft, Amazon, and Google generated average returns of 38%, 28%, and 26%, respectively. Even Facebook’s relatively modest 18% outperformed the S&P 500’s average of 16%.

The lockdowns helped widen the gap between tech and everyone else, according to Kasper Elmgreen, the head of equities at Amundi SA. “The economy gets turned off, so we had an historic economic contraction that hit [vehicular] traffic, leisure, industrials, construction, financial services, and so forth hardest,” he says.

That could be changing. The Covid-19 omicron wave is receding in many places, and businesses that suffered during the pandemic could benefit more than tech companies from a renewed recovery. This could send investors looking to increase their stakes in companies they’ve spurned for the past two years while they focused on the tech giants.

“The whole case for investing in these companies and inflating their premiums was the fact that growth was scarce and they had the strongest growth prospects in the S&P 500,” says Gina Martin Adams, the chief equity strategist for Bloomberg Intelligence in New York. “As economic conditions improve, that premium will naturally deflate.”

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Dow Jumps 700 Points, Analysts ‘Cautiously Optimistic’ After More Solid EarningsNZ sharemarket falls another 0.2%, underperforms Wall Street Stuff.co.nz

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How Microsoft Makes Money: Computing and Cloud Services

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), one of the world’s biggest tech companies, sells personal computing devices, cloud systems and services, software, and other products.1 With products geared toward both consumers and businesses, Microsoft competes in a broad range of industries against companies including Apple Inc. (AAPL), Amazon.com Inc. (MZN), International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), and Oracle Corp. (ORCL).

Key Takeaways

  • Microsoft sells computing devices, cloud systems and services, software, and other products to consumers and businesses.
  • The company’s intelligent cloud segment is the largest source of profit, as well as the fastest-growing.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic has had positive impacts on certain aspects of Microsoft’s business, including its cloud business and productivity tools.
  • Microsoft announced in mid-January plans to acquire popular video game company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion.

Microsoft’s Financials

Microsoft announced in late January financial results for Q2 of its 2022 fiscal year (FY), the three-month period ended Dec. 31, 2021. Net income rose 21.4% to $18.8 billion. Quarterly revenue expanded 20.1% year-over-year (YOY) to $51.7 billion. Microsoft uses operating income as its profit metric for gauging the performance of its individual business segments. Operating income for the quarter grew 24.3% YOY to $22.2 billion.

Revenue for the fiscal second quarter benefitted from strong growth in Microsoft Cloud and other cloud services.3 Microsoft also noted in its quarterly filings that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an impact on its business operations and financial results, but that some of the effects have lessened. The company said that its commercial and consumer businesses have benefitted from demand for its cloud and productivity tools.

Microsoft’s Business Segments

Microsoft divides its business into three reportable segments, breaking out results by both revenue and operating income: productivity and business processes, intelligent cloud, and more personal computing. These segments are categorized according to both product type and customer demographic. Productivity and business processes, for instance, includes products across multiple platforms and devices relating to productivity and communication. And more personal computing focuses on products designed with end-users, developers, and IT professionals in mind.5

Productivity and business processes

Microsoft’s productivity and business processes segment includes a portfolio of products designed to enhance corporate productivity, communication, and information services. One of its major products is Microsoft’s Office software suite, including both the commercial and consumer divisions. The segment also includes business solutions products such as dynamics, as well as the professional networking site, LinkedIn.5

In Q2 FY 2022, productivity and business processes generated $15.9 billion in revenue, comprising 31% of Microsoft’s total revenue. This amounted to an increase of 19.3% from the year-ago quarter. Operating income for the segment grew 24.4% YOY to $7.7 billion in Q2 FY 2022, accounting for less than 35% of the total.6

Intelligent cloud

The intelligent cloud segment comprises all of Microsoft’s public, private, and hybrid server products as well as cloud services for business. These include Microsoft Azure, SQL Server, Windows Server, GitHub, Enterprise Services, and more.5

For Q2 FY 2022, Intelligent Cloud generated $18.3 billion in revenue, accounting for over 35% of total revenue. Up 25.5% compared to the year-ago quarter, Intelligent Cloud was the fastest-growing revenue segment in the company’s fiscal second quarter. It was also the fastest-growing segment in terms of operating income, which was up 26.3% YOY to $8.2 billion. Intelligent Cloud operating income accounts for just under 37% of Microsoft’s total operating income, making it the most profitable of the company’s three segments.6

More personal computing

Microsoft describes its more personal computing segment as consisting of products and services aimed at putting “customers at the center of the experience with our technology.” The Windows operating system, surface device, gaming products, and search and news advertising are all included in this segment.

In Q2 FY 2022, more personal computing generated $17.5 billion in revenue, comprising about 34% of total revenue. While revenue grew 15.5% YOY for the segment, operating income rose 21.8% YOY to $6.4 billion. More personal computing accounts for about 29% of the company’s total operating income.6

Microsoft’s Recent Developments

On Jan. 18, 2022, Microsoft announced a plan to acquire video game developer Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. The deal is expected to close in fiscal year 2023. According to Microsoft, the acquisition will make it the third-largest gaming company by revenue, behind only Tencent and Sony.7

How Microsoft Reports Diversity and Inclusiveness

As part of our effort to improve the awareness of the importance of diversity in companies, we offer investors a glimpse into the transparency of Microsoft and its commitment to diversity, inclusiveness, and social responsibility. We examined the data Microsoft releases to show you how it reports the diversity of its board and workforce to help readers make educated purchasing and investing decisions.

By: Nathan Reiff

Source: How Microsoft Makes Money: Computing and Cloud Services

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A new report claims a brilliant new feature could be coming to the iPhone 14 Pro, powered by the software that’s about to be revealed.

Apple’s next big iPhone software release, iOS 16, will be unveiled at Apple’s upcoming special event, the 2022 Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). The keynote will be a pre-recorded event but with an in-person contingent: streamed to a small group of developers in Cupertino and simultaneously to the rest of the world. It could include Apple’s biggest new product category reveal in almost eight years.

Even if that doesn’t happen, for sure there will be the first looks at Apple’s software platforms: iOS for iPhone, iPadOS for iPad, macOS for Apple Macs, tvOS for Apple TV and watchOS for Apple Watch.

Now, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman, in his latest Power On newsletter, has news about what iOS 16 contains. While most of the innovations are software-only, at least one indicates something that may be locked to the iPhone 14 series, or parts of it, alone.

Always-on screen

This is a feature the iPhone has never had, though plenty of Android phones have. Still, Apple’s mantra seems to be “Don’t do it first, do it right”.

The best always-on screens show the time, what notifications await, if there’s an alarm set and so on. You can configure them to show exactly what you want including, in the case of the excellent Huawei screens, a cute animation. It means you can glance down at the iPhone and see the time, even without touching it. All without killing the battery.

Gurman claims that this new feature, assuming it makes the cut, will be reserved for Apple iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max, that is, the iPhone 14 and iPhone 14 Max, if that’s what the other two phones are called, won’t have it.

It’s a feature that’s been in the planning for a long time because according to Gurman it’s: “something Apple was originally planning for last year’s iPhone 13. This would allow the iPhone to turn down the frame rate significantly on the lock screen and display quickly glanceable information—similar to newer Apple Watches.” If it happens, it’s a big deal.

Also in iOS 16

Gurman also claims that there will be an extensive series of changes across the OS, including, “updates to notifications, iPad multitasking, and the Messages and Health apps. The makeover also includes a part of the interface that’s often an afterthought: the lock screen.”

He rightly points out that the most used lock-screen feature is likely the flashlight button—if your usage is anything like mine, that is.

New “wallpapers that have widget-like capabilities” are predicted. There are no more details from Gurman about this, but it sounds exciting and suggests a more innovative and more useful lock screen.

The next iPhone software is predicted to see an improved Messages app with “more social network-like functionality, particularly around audio messages.”

Messages already has a bunch of cool features like the ability to add confetti or balloons to texts and the fact that the advanced stuff is only available between Apple users adds to the exclusivity and helps stop a wholesale move to the multi-platform WhatsApp, perhaps.

New features are expected for the Health app on the iPhone, and while Gurman says there will be “plenty” of them. There are no more details yet.More details as we have them, but not long until it’s all revealed.

I’ve been writing about technology for two decades and am routinely struck by how the sector swings from startling innovation to persistent

Source: Apple Insider Reveals Exciting New iPhone 14 Pro Upgrade

Critics by

Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro is set to be the phone that could shake up the iPhone range by potentially bringing in a notably different design from the iPhone 13 Pro. So far the rumors have hinted at everything from the death of the notch to the return of Touch ID. 

This is probably well overdue; as good as the iPhone 13 Pro is, it’s arguably not a definitive upgrade over its predecessor. And overall, the iPhone hasn’t taken a huge leap forward since the iPhone 11 Pro

In the face of stiff competition from the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S22 Ultra and the Google Pixel 6 Pro, it looks like Apple will need to bring its A-game to the iPhone 14 Pro. Thankfully, going by the leaks and rumors so far, Apple’s next Pro model might be doing just that. And the iPhone 14 Pro could have some big differences from the other iPhone 14 models.

Naturally, Apple is extremely tight-lipped about any information concerning its next iPhones, especially when it comes to release dates and price. But going by previous launches, we’d say it’s a safe bet to expect the iPhone 14 range to debut in September. The most recent leak has the iPhone 14 launch tipped for September 13, supposedly based on insider information. That date seems to track with other rumors and Apple’s general cadence of iPhone launches. 

Given the disruption the coronavirus pandemic has caused on supply chains, Apple appears to be taking action to mitigate the risk of the iPhone 14 range hitting long wait times due to manufacturing disruption among its major suppliers. That includes possibly ditching one supplier who wasn’t making components up to Apple’s standards, although that hopefully won’t cause a delay to the phone’s production.

However, one report says that one of the four iPhone models is three weeks behind schedule due to Covid lockdowns in China. The somewhat reliable leaker LeaksApplePro has claimed three of the four iPhone 14 models are tipped for a price hike, but it’s definitely just a rumor.  If true, the iPhone 14 Pro would start at $1,099, which is a $100 hike over the $999 iPhone 13 Pro. And the iPhone 14 Pro Max may see a similar increase, with it hitting $1,199.

This relatively significant leap in launch price would certainly sting the wallet of anyone hoping to score a high-end next-gen iPhone 14. Another leaker, Shadow_Leak, has posted on Twitter that he also expects the regular iPhone 14 Pro to cost $1,099 (opens in new tab). Do also check out our early look at the iPhone 14 vs iPhone 14 Pro — get ready for the biggest differences in years.

Further reading:

RealityOS trademark tips possible Apple VR headset reveal at WWDC 2022

PS5 DualSense controller just got its first ever discount — in every color

You can try Switch Online for free right now — even if you’ve done so before

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The WhatsApp Business Model – How Does WhatsApp Make Money?

Screenshot-2022-03-14-at-18-27-13-779593_1179282_wjhatsapp_updates.webp-WEBP-Image-700-×-400-pixels-1

What Is WhatsApp & How Does It Work?

WhatsApp is a messaging application that allows users to communicate with each other via text, audio, and video.WhatsApp can be accessed via its tablet and smartphone apps (available on Android and iOS devices) as well as its web application (called WhatsApp Web).

Users can communicate with each other individually (in private chats) or via groups. WhatsApp’s platform is end-to-end encrypted, meaning that only the users in the chat can read the messages. If users feel like sharing their special moments, they can do so via WhatsApp’s Stories feature. These moments are then displayed for 24 hours.

Apart from its consumer application, WhatsApp has also a communication tool for businesses (named WhatsApp Business). Businesses can:

  • Set up business profiles with helpful information for their customers (such as an address, email addresses, or a link to their website)
  • Labeling contacts for better categorization
  • Automated messages and quick replies
  • Broadcasts (similar to a newsletter)

The WhatsApp Business tool is geared toward small businesses. If a business has some greater scale, it can opt into using WhatsApp’s Business API. The API endpoint allows them to integrate it into their existing business software.WhatsApp is used by more than 2 billion people in over 180 countries across the globe. As such, it is the world’s largest communication platform.

The History Of WhatsApp

WhatsApp, headquartered in Mountain View, California, was founded in 2009 by Jan Koum and Brian Acton.Koum was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, during the 1970s. He spent the transformative years of his childhood in Fastiv, a small town just outside of the Ukrainian capital.Being of Jewish descent, Koum and his family often became the subject of anti-Semitic behavior. On top of that, the Soviet government was notorious for spying on its citizen, leaving the family with no room for privacy to express the predicament they felt being in.

In 1992, at the age of 16, Koum and his mother were allowed to immigrate to the United States where they ended up in Mountain View. Unfortunately, his dad was never allowed to enter the states and eventually died in 1997.The mother-son-duo spent their first few years in a small two-bedroom apartment provided via government assistance. To make ends meet, Koum’s mother took up a babysitting job while Jan worked as a grocery store clerk.A few years later, his mom was diagnosed with cancer and they continued to live off her disability allowance.

By that time, Koum was already head deep into computers. He became a self-taught programmer by purchasing manuals from used bookstores and returning them when he was done reading (to save money).In the mid-1990s, he enrolled himself at San Jose State University to pursue a degree in Computer Science. Koum ended up joining Ernst & Young as a security tester post-graduation. In 1997, EY assigned him to work on Yahoo’s advertising system where he ended up meeting Acton.Acton’s path prior to their meeting couldn’t have been more different.

He was born and raised in Michigan where his mother ran a freight-shipping company, allowing them to live a fairly comfortable life.He ended up doing his Computer Science undergrad at Stanford and then joined Apple as a software engineer. In 1996, Acton became Yahoo’s 44th employee where he quickly climbed the corporate ladder.The pair hit it off immediately and Acton convinced Koum to apply for a role at Yahoo. 6 months later, Koum joined the internet giant as an infrastructure engineer.

He even dropped out of college (he was still attending San Jose State at the time) to completely focus on Yahoo.Their relationship deepened in the years that followed. When Koum’s mother died of cancer in 2000, Acton immediately offered his support. He’d frequently invite Koum over to his house, on skiing trips, or to ultimate Frisbee matches.While their bond became stronger throughout the years, their dissatisfaction with working at Yahoo grew alongside it.

The majority of their time at Yahoo was spent on releasing Project Panama, the firm’s long-awaited advertising platform.In the end, having worked on an advertising product for almost a decade, both Acton and Koum felt emotionally drained. Their dislike for advertising products should eventually come back to haunt them (but more on that later).In 2007, a year after the launch of Project Panama, both Acton and Koum handed in their resignation. They embarked on a year-long hiatus, traveling around South America and enjoying games of ultimate Frisbee.

Then, around the beginning of 2009, Koum purchased his first-ever iPhone. He immediately realized that the App Store, which had just launched a few months prior, would spawn a whole new generation of businesses that build on top of Apple’s ecosystem.A mutual friend of Koum introduced him to Igor Solomennikov, a Russia-based iOS developer that would help him build the product’s frontend (while Koum was responsible for the backend portion).

A few weeks later, on February 24th, 2009 (which is also Koum’s birthday), he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. WhatsApp, by the way, is short for “what’s up”, a phrase Koum found befitting for a messaging app.Over the next months, Koum spent hours upon hours programming the app. Unfortunately, a plethora of bugs caused it to continuously crash. At one point, he was even ready to call it quits. Acton’s response was fairly blunt: “You’d be an idiot to quit now,” he stated. “Give it a few more months.”Koum’s perseverance eventually paid off when Apple released push notifications in the summer of 2009.

Each time one of the app’s users changed their status, all of their contacts would get a notification.Eventually, people would start messaging each other through the app – from any place around the world. While this may sound dull in today’s hyper-connected world, WhatsApp’s introduction became a huge revelation and, for the first time, indicated the impact smartphones could have on our lives.At the time, the only free texting application was BlackBerry’s BBM, which was solely accessible to users that owned a BlackBerry device.

User growth started to snowball when Koum released an upgraded version of WhatsApp that included a messaging interface (i.e. chats). Over 250,000 users downloaded the app within a matter of days.To keep up with demand, Koum came to see Acton, who at the time was still unemployed and working on another startup idea, to convince him to join the project. When Acton used the app for the first time, he immediately realized the limitless potential that a messaging platform like WhatsApp could have.A few months later, Acton was able to convince 5 of his former colleagues at Yahoo to invest $250,000 in the startup’s first-ever seed funding round.

The funding round furthermore granted him co-founder status and a significant stake in the company.The money allowed them to hire a few more developers that would build WhatsApp products for the Android’s and BlackBerry’s operating system, respectively. Yet, they remained true to their frugal origins.The team would share a warehouse with Evernote (who’d later take over the whole building and essentially kick them out). They would wear blankets to keep them warm and used the cheapest Ikea furniture for work.What became more abstruse was that the team find it necessary to put up an office sign.

Instead, they’d tell job candidates to get to the Evernote building, walk around the back, find the unmarked door, and simply knock.A bigger problem became the startup’s largest cost pool: SMS verifications. SMS brokers like Click-A-Tell would send the messages on WhatsApp’s behalf and charge them anywhere between $0.02 to $1 depending on location.The team would occasionally change the app’s pricing structure from free to paid (equal to $1) to cover its cost. Yet, despite the fact that they charged users, WhatsApp would rise to become a top 20 app in the U.S. App Store by the beginning of 2011.

WhatsApp’s growth was solely based on word of mouth and the quality of the product they delivered. Deeply affected by their experience at Yahoo, the founders promised themselves to never derail the app with ads or other distractions. To that extent, Koum had a note in front of his desk reminding him of the exact same thing.Being on top of the App Store world and building a high-quality product put the team on the radar of a lot of Silicon Valley investors. Yet, they were rejected right from the start. Acton’s fear, at the time, was that VC funding would lead to lesser decision-making power – and investors would force them to insert ads into the application.

One investor proved to be particularly enduring. Jim Goetz, Partner at Sequoia Capital, tried to get in contact with the founders for well over 8 months – without any success. Eventually, his persisting follow-ups led to a meeting at the Red Rock Café, a famous Mountain View workspace known to be home to many startup founders.Goetz ensured the duo that he’d only act as a strategic advisor and not force them to make any business decisions they weren’t comfortable with.

In the end, Sequoia was able to lead WhatsApp’s Series A round, which netted the company $8 million.The founders made sure to use the money to the best of their ability. By 2013, WhatsApp had over 200 million monthly active users and a staff of 50 people. Sequoia would go on to invest another $50 million via WhatsApp’s Series B, which valued the company at $1.5 billion.Ironically enough, when Goetz signed the check, Acton sent him a screenshot of the firm’s account balance, which was equal to $8.2 million. They simply needed the money ”for insurance”, as Acton recalled.

Being a highly capital efficient company with a rapidly expanding user base does eventually put you on the radar. In the spring of 2012, Koum’s email inbox was hit with the following subject line:“Get together?”The recipient was no one other than Mark Zuckerberg asking the WhatsApp founder to have a chat over dinner. Over the next year, the pair got together for many more of these dinners, discussing the chances of a potential acquisition.In mid-June 2013, when WhatsApp just crossed the 300 million user mark, the founders had a scheduled meeting with Google’s Head of Android Sundar Pichai (who now serves as the company’s CEO).

Pichai would even introduce the pair to then Google CEO and co-founder Larry Page. A few days before that meeting was bound to happen, a WhatsApp employee ran into Amin Zoufonoun, Facebook’s Director of Business Development and one of the brains behind the $1 billion Instagram acquisition.He told him that Acton and Koum were supposed to meet Page in the next few days. Zoufonoun immediately went back to the office to speed up the acquisition process in order to avoid a last-minute counteroffer by Google.

Yet, the founders still attended that Google meeting but actually didn’t even receive an offer from Google.About 2 weeks after that meeting, on February 15th, 2014, Zuckerberg and Koum inked the deal. Facebook would pay $19 billion to acquire 100 percent of WhatsApp, paying $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock, and another $3 billion in stock grants if the founders would stay on at Facebook for at least 4 years. The price ended up rising to $22 billion due to the share-based components of the deal.

To make this even more of a Cinderella story, Koum signed the agreement on the doorsteps of his old welfare home in Mountain View.Furthermore, the deal would make Koum and Acton overnight billionaires. Koum would make $6.8 billion after taxes while Acton would pocket $3 billion. Lastly, Sequoia walked away with $3.5 billion, which represented a 60-fold return on the firm’s $58 million investment.Ironically enough, both Acton and Koum applied for roles at Facebook after they left Yahoo but were ultimately rejected. Now, they had not only a seat at the table but access to quasi-infinite resources.

As a result, WhatsApp was able to triple its user base to 1.5 billion within 3 years of the acquisition.On the outside, everything was looking great but the tension between Facebook and WhatsApp executives began to rise soon after.Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, as well as many other Facebook executives started to push WhatsApp’s founding team to ease the end-to-end encryption it became known for.Furthermore, they wanted to include targeted ads within the app, a concept that both Acton and Koum opposed heavily (they even had a clause in their contracts that granted them accelerated payouts if Facebook insisted to include ads).

A few disagreements between the company’s employees also popped up. For instance, Facebook employees issued their dissatisfaction about the fact that WhatApp’s desks, which were brought over from their Mountain View location (WhatsApp moved into Facebook’s headquarters after the acquisition), were larger than the standard desks Facebook employees were equipped with.WhatsApp also negotiated for nicer bathrooms and had conference rooms which permitted Facebook employees from entering.

WhatsApp, on the other end, wasn’t without fault either. When the founders were tasked with replicating Snapchat’s Story feature into WhatsApp, Acton and Koum used that assignment as an excuse to delay exploring other revenue-generating avenues.Eventually, the mounting tension between the 2 camps became irreparable. On September 17th, 2017, Acton announced he would leave WhatsApp. Koum’s departure came just 7 months after (in April 2018). Due to their premature exit, Acton and Koum gave up $900 million and $400 million in stock compensation, respectively.

To make matters worse, Acton publicly denounced Facebook, criticizing the company on how it handled its user data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. He even pushed people to stop using Facebook by publicly supporting the #DeleteFacebook movement.Facebook, that same year, was even slapped with a $122 million fine by the European Union due to providing “incorrect or misleading information” in regards to the acquisition.While all these incidents painted a gloomy picture of how miserable life as a Facebook-owned property can be, it did not seem to affect WhatsApp’s usage growth at all.

Particularly India, with its 1.37 billion inhabitants, became one of the major growth markets.WhatsApp’s popularity among Indians allowed many businesses to flourish by offering products and services to millions of smartphone users via the app’s Business tools. Unfortunately though, just like its mother company, WhatsApp became a breeding ground for spreading fake news.In 2017, 17 men were killed after false rumors of their attempts to kidnap kids from a village spread on the app.

WhatsApp introduced various measures, such as limits on message forwarding and full-page newspaper ads warning about these rumors, to combat the spread of fake news on its platform.In some instances, WhatsApp (albeit unintentionally) even caused political leaders to be ousted. In October 2019, Lebanon’s Prime Minster Saad Hariri, amidst intense public pressure, was forced to resign from his position after proposing a 20 percent tax on the first WhatsApp call users made in a day.And the bad news did not end there. In January 2021, WhatsApp announced that it would roll out a new privacy policy which forced users to share data with its parent company Facebook.

While it turned out to be a misunderstanding (Facebook already gathers WhatsApp data in an encrypted way, so user information remains private), the damage was already done.Many of its users flocked to other messaging platforms, such as Signal (as promoted in a tweet by Elon Musk), Telegram, or Viber. Initially, the company said it would remove users who wouldn’t accept the new terms. However, the company reversed its course days before the supposed go-live on May 15th, 2021.In fact, the company has now doubled down on privacy-related changes and other features that often mimic those of Telegram and such.

For instance, in June, the platform introduced multi-device support, which allows users to message on various devices at the same time. Other features include encrypted video chats as well as disappearing photos and videos (August 2021).Unfortunately, not everyone seemed to believe in WhatsApp’s noble intentions. In September 2021, Irish authorities imposed a €225 million (~$267 million) fine on WhatsApp for failing to tell some users how much data was shared with Facebook.

The fine was the second highest ever issued under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was first introduced back in May 2018.Today, WhatsApp is widely considered to be the world’s largest communication platform. Over 100 billion messages are now being exchanged on the platform – every day. WhatsApp currently employs well over 1,000 people in 6 office locations across 4 countries.

How Does WhatsApp Make Money?

WhatsApp makes money by charging medium and large enterprises for access to its Business API. But before we go into more detail, let’s take a closer look at the firm’s previous monetization efforts.As earlier stated, WhatsApp used to monetize its customers via a subscription model. Users paid $1 per year to be able to use the app. That would be equal to a $2 billion revenue run rate given WhatsApp’s 2 billion user base.In 2016, 2 years after the acquisition, Facebook decided to ditch the $1 fee.

The underlying strategy was to continue focusing on user growth and help WhatsApp become the ubiquitous leader in the messaging space.That also meant ditching any plans to insert ads into the product. Whilst Facebook’s Messenger product does offer in-app advertising, its executives have decided to work with businesses to monetize WhatsApp.In 2018, WhatsApp launched its Business API, which became the first continuous effort to monetize the app post-acquisition.

The B2B tool is free to use for small companies. Meanwhile, larger organizations have to pay whenever they send a reply 24 hours after the initial message was sent. Everything beyond the 24-hour threshold will cost anywhere between $0.05 to $0.90 per replied message.Furthermore, WhatsApp partners up with other companies, such as the cloud communication platform Twilio, to deliver its API.

Future Monetization Channels

In recent times, multiple reports have emerged about new revenue streams that WhatsApp may pursue.WhatsApp has been working on a payment product since 2018. In June 2020, it finally launched a payment service in Brazil that allowed users to pay each other (mirroring Venmo and Zelle) as well as other businesses on the platform.Unfortunately, around 10 days later, Brazil’s central bank suspended the launch, stating that it wanted to “preserve an adequate competitive environment” within its mobile payments industry.

Mastercard and Visa, WhatsApp’s payment partners, were asked to suspend any money transfer within the app.While the failed launch was a tough pill to swallow, it hasn’t stopped the company from pursuing the payment concept.In November 2020, it enabled P2P payments in India, the firm’s largest market by user count. Business payments, in which WhatsApp would receive a portion of the order value, are expected to follow in the next few months. Also, in May 2021, Brazil lifted its payment ban, adding another country to the mix.

For the longest time it had been speculated that Facebook might finally decide to put ads on WhatsApp. Will Cathcart, the Head of WhatsApp, has indicated a more native approach.Instead of advertisements pointing towards a website (like on Messenger), ads would be directed at existing WhatsApp Business accounts that sell products and services a user might need.Another possibility might be ads within WhatsApp’s Story feature. These ads would, in all likeliness, show up in between stories. Businesses would then pay WhatsApp a fee in exchange for being shown on these advertorial placements.

Lastly, it has also been speculated that WhatsApp is set to introduce business directories as well as cashback rewards. With the directory, businesses would pay WhatsApp a fee for being listed or promoted on it while cashback rewards would grant the company a portion of the purchasing price (known as a referral fee).However, due to the firm’s troubled past, it remains very timid with the monetization features it introduces.

WhatsApp Funding, Valuation & Revenue

According to Crunchbase, WhatsApp has raised a total of $60.3 million across 3 rounds of venture capital funding. The company’s only investor throughout its startup time was Sequoia Capital, with partner Jim Goetz leading negotiations.The last time WhatsApp valuation was publicly disclosed occurred during its acquisition by Facebook. The tech giant paid a whopping $19 billion to acquire a 100 percent stake in the company.Facebook has furthermore decided to not disclose any revenue it generates from WhatsApp. Instead, any revenue figures are included in the firm’s overall income figures.

By: Victor

Hi folks, my name is Viktor. A twenty-something year old who all the sudden found himself in the world of blogging.The information you can find on this website is a reflection of my lifelong experiences working in technical account management, consulting, and data analytics. My work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including Business Insider, Yahoo Finance, Seeking Alpha, Coindesk, BuzzFeed, and hundreds more……

Source: The WhatsApp Business Model – How Does WhatsApp Make Money?

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