Launched in January 2009, WhatsApp was acquired in 2014 by social media giant Facebook for approximately 19 billion U.S. dollars, becoming the company’s most successful messaging app despite having transformed its’ flagship chat portal into a standalone app - Facebook Messenger - in 2010. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated that Facebook's acquisition of WhatsApp was closely related to the Internet.org vision of more affordable and efficient internet access worldwide. However, WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton have left the company since mid-2018, citing disagreements over monetization and user privacy.
Global usage and reachThe number of global unique WhatsApp users increased by 26 percent from the beginning of 2020 to mid-2023 and is estimated to have reached 2.79 billion unique users by June 2023. In June 2023, WhatsApp was the most downloaded chat and messaging app worldwide , amassing approximately 45.85 million downloads across the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
As mobile usage trends normalize after the sudden increase experienced in 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, time spent on WhatsApp has experienced a small decrease in 2022. In 2020, global users were spending over 19 hours per month on the popular chat app. By comparison, monthly WhatsApp usage saw an average of 17 hours per user on the platform in 2022, with Indonesia, Brazil, and Argentina being the markets with the largest amount of time spent on the platform in the last examined year.
WhatsApp Business and messaging apps professional usageThe 2020 global coronavirus pandemic accelerated the adoption trends of digital tools and mobile communication channels in both social and professional contexts. According to a survey conducted among professionals during the third quarter of 2022, around seven in 10 respondents reported using messenger services and chat apps like WhatsApp and Skype daily for work.
WhatsApp Business, launched in 2018, allows companies and small businesses to initiate contact with users for marketing purposes, but more importantly, allows users to contact companies with a WhatsApp Business profile seamlessly from their regular WhatsApp interface. As of July 2023, WhatsApp Business counted around 200 million monthly active users worldwide, registering a growth of over 300 percent compared to the 50 million active users registered in June 2020. Small businesses and users have been estimated to generate over 333 million U.S. dollars in 2022, with the Asia-Pacific market accounting for almost 40 percent of the total.