Sequoia Capital (News - Alert) has reported dropped $8 million into free mobile messaging app developer WhatsApp. There are rumors (unsubstantiated) that other investors were involved in the financing round, as well, according to TechCrunch.
The company's product, WhatsApp Messenger, is a cross-platform mobile messaging app that allows pairs or groups of people to exchange messages without having to pay for pricey SMS texts through their wireless carrier. WhatsApp Messenger is available for iPhone, BlackBerry, Android (News - Alert) and Nokia (and different phones can message one another the service).
“Because WhatsApp Messenger uses the same Internet data plan that you use for e-mail and Web browsing, there is no cost to message and stay in touch with your friends,” says the company's Web site.
WhatsApp calls traditional SMS, “an older messaging system with a limited functionality and high cost.” They've got a point there. Unless you are willing to fork over money for an unlimited text plan (useful only for people who send dozens or hundreds of texts per day), it's likely you pay as much as $0.25 per text through your wireless carrier.
According to TechCrunch, WhatsApp was founded by Jan Koum, who formerly managed the Platform Operations team responsible for the critical internal pieces of Yahoo’s infrastructure, and Yahoo’s former VP of Engineering Brian Acton. Another former Yahoo exec, the company’s ex-Senior Engineering Manager Charles Kung, describes himself as an investor and adviser to WhatsApp on his LinkedIn (News - Alert) profile.
Free group messaging apps appear to be all the rage right now. Last month, another group messaging service called Beluga was acquired by Facebook (News - Alert). Google also has a group texting app as well, called Disco.Tracey Schelmetic is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Tracey's articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Jennifer Russell