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WhatsApp's Epic Fail Was a Rival App's Exponential Gain

WhatsApps Epic Fail Was a Rival Apps Exponential Gain


Did you get the telegram that Facebook’s $19 billion-dollar baby bit the dust for four hours over the weekend? The developers of WhatsApp competitor Telegram Messenger sure did -- and they're reaping the spoils.  

Some 5 million chat-happy people swarmed Telegram, a free, heavily encrypted instant text messaging app, only a day after a network router snafu temporarily downed WhatsApp and just three days after Facebook announced it would be purchasing WhatsApp.


Berlin-based Telegram Messenger, founded by Nikolai and Pavel Durov, the billionaire brothers behind Vkontakte, Russia’s most popular social network, ambivalently tooted its horn yesterday on Twitter about the massive user influx, which it obviously wasn’t entirely prepared for:   

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Smart Marketing Automation

Marketing automation has come a long way. It started with mail merge systems for direct mail, automated fax systems, and then email marketing. These systems then paved the way for lead scoring, segmentation, tracking, and engagement tools. In the hands of the right operator, today's tools are incredibly powerful. And therein lies the rub - in the hands of the right operator.

Two weeks ago, I got an email pitch from a staffing agency with the subject line, "Overcoming the Shortage of Marketing Automation Talent." The email went onto say, "When it comes to marketing automation, the talent shortage is dramatic..." My interest piqued, I read on.

The second paragraph laid out just how they plan to address this shortage of talent - take a proven marketer (logical start) and pair them with a Georgia Tech database/technical expert to create a duo able to deliver complete marketing automation solutions.

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No Really: You Need a Strategy for Facebook

A few weeks back, I wrote about the changes to the Facebook algorithm. It was a bit of a quiet storm at that point. The changes went into effect sometime around the end of the year and while a few stories were filed and some discussion popped, it really didn't feel like too much of a big deal. I wrote about it and I had this sense that maybe I wasn't making that big of a deal out of the change.

But let me correct that, today: This is a REALLY BIG FREAKING DEAL.

Facebook gets about 167 million unique visitors a month. That is about 20 New York Cities worth of people logging in and clicking Like and tagging photos and so on. It's also about eight times the circulation of the AARP's magazine (which has the largest circulation of any magazine in the United States). The world is coming to Facebook, that much is clear. And, therefore, it makes sense for advertisers to be there.

Facebook has always had an interesting relationship with brands. I don't necessarily believe the movies, but it is clear that the people who built Facebook wanted to build a great service first and foremost. Advertising did not interest them. Then, they allowed brands on and let us (essentially) fend for ourselves - creating pages and driving customers to them and letting us do what we wanted. And not really charging us.

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WhatsApp Was Valued At ~$1.5B In Final Round Before Sale

WhatsApp did a great job of being surreptitious about its funding while growing into a messaging monster. But as they say, the truth always comes out.

In this case, the truth is that the company had three rounds of financing, with Sequoia as the sole investor. According to documents unearthed by VC Experts, WhatsApp went from a $250k seed round in 2009 to an $8 million round at an ~$80 million valuation in 2011.

The final round, which we reported as a Series C here but was actually technically a Series B, was a $52 million round back in July 2013, at a ~$1.5 billion valuation.

Guess the news that Facebook was interested in scooping up the simple messaging app, as well as its exponentially expanding userbase (around 200 million at the time of this investment), drove the company’s worth up a couple of orders of magnitude.

The filings add up to the $60 million we previously reported, with Sequoia eventually owning around 20 percent of WhatsApp (we’ve heard “high teens”). Its stake is now worth about $3 billion in cash and stock, around a 50x return on its investment in the company.

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Map of the Content Marketing Landscape


We’ve written a lot about content marketing – including what makes for really great content marketing, the power of real-time content marketing, why content is the secret weapon of commerce and what most content marketing campaigns are missing (hint: you need a content mediaapproach, not just marketing).

What we haven’t seen yet is a complete picture of the digital content marketing universe, which is something research firm LUMA Partners has tried to tackle. You might quibble with some of the categories, the brand publisher list overlooks alot of heavyweights, and many of these companies play in several of these spaces - but it is an interesting lens on the content marketing landscape. You'll find Say Media on the left side near Vox (click the image to enlarge).

Click the read more to see the map:

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