WhatsApp CEO: We're bigger than Twitter's 200M users

He wouldn't go into specifics, but WhatsApp chief Jan Koum says the mobile messaging service has more than 200 million monthly users.

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum at AllThingsD's mobile conference. Maggie Reardon/CNET

WhatsApp is bigger than Twitter, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum boasted today.

Koum, speaking at AllThingsD's mobile conference today, wouldn't talk about specific figures when it comes to usage, but he confirmed that the mobile messaging service topped Twitter's usage. Twitter declared in December that it had exceeded 200 million monthly users .

WhatsApp boasts an average of 8 billion inbound messages and 12 billion outbound messages a day, he said.

Koum also addressed the rumors that WhatsApp would be acquired, reiterating that the company wants to remain independent and doesn't really think about acquisition as an exit strategy.

"Our goal is to build a sustainable, independent company," he said. "We want to build a business."

WhatsApp was rumored to be in talks to be acquired by Google for $1 billion, but denied the discussions .

Koum asked the blogosphere to be "more responsible in their reporting."

The company's goal, Koum reiterated, is to not make money off of advertisements. He said that with something as personal as a smartphone, it didn't feel right to insert ads into its service. Instead, WhatsApp is slowly introducing a business model in which users pay 99 cents a year.

Charging for the app hasn't resulted in a drop-off in the service, Koum said, noting that the network effect has helped drive adoption.

While WhatsApp could be seen as a company eating away at the carriers' lucrative text-messaging revenue, Koum said that the carriers have turned around and see his business as one driving data adoption. For some carriers, the text-messaging issue has gone away as they focused on driving more data usage.

WhatsApp, Koum said, has participated in a number of carrier partnerships that further drive adoption and usage, including local data deals in India and access to a "roaming pass" with a partner in Hong Kong, allowing users to travel elsewhere in Asia and still use WhatsApp without extra fees.

Koum said that he wants to focus on messaging as the core service, and said he doesn't want to turn WhatsApp into a platform business. A platform requires games, advertising, and other elements that the company doesn't want to get into, he said.

WhatsApp isn't the only company in the messaging game. Heavy hitters such as Google, Facebook, and Apple have all introduced their own messaging applications. But Koum said that its business model differentiates WhatsApp from the pack, and that of all these companies, only WhatsApp completely focuses on messaging.

"Mobile and messaging is the only thing we do," he said. "It's in our heart and in our blood and DNA."

 

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