- WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging application with more than 1.2 billion users worldwide, is beefing up its business team by hiring several key monetization-related jobs, Recode reported. WhatsApp, which Recode said currently makes no money, has more than 200 employees and is seeking to fill three positions: product manager, marketing manager and a business spokesperson.
- WhatsApp says the ideal candidates will have prior experience in local, search and payments. The company is particularly focused on creating something for emerging markets, such as Brazil or India, where the app is very popular, Recode reported, citing an unnamed source.
- The job listings follow the hiring this year of its first chief operating officer, Matt Idema, a former Facebook executive. WhatsApp began testing a service to let businesses communicate directly with customers via messaging and is working on a payments feature for the Indian market.
Facebook has grown into the biggest social network on the planet with more than 2 billion users, and it recognizes that its maturing business model means that exponential growth is harder to achieve, particularly for a company that reaches a massive, diverse audience base on free-to-use platforms. That's especially true for any company that depends on global advertising, an extremely cyclical business that typically grows just a few percentage points a year.
Fortunately for Facebook, WhatsApp is very popular in densely populated, emerging markets like Brazil and India that have the potential to grow faster than developed countries in North America, Europe and Asia. (Brazil this year began to recover from a severe three-year recession that resulted from political instability, collapsing commodity prices, reduced investment and poor business and consumer confidence, according to BBC). As these markets recover and smartphone usage there begins to surge, WhatsApp aims to be ahead of the game by focusing specifically on these locations.
WhatsApp shunned third-party advertising in its early days, but after Facebook purchased the company for $22 billion in 2014, it's gradually warmed up to the possibility of seeking sponsors as it currently faces zero profitability. WhatsApp will have to walk a fine line between comfortably monetizing its service without alienating a user base that seeks to avoid third-party banner ads and spam.