I’ve added this title as a disclaimer of sorts, if tech isn’t your thing…you may not continue any further. Except you’re a free spirit…
The internet is abuzz with news of WhatsApp’s sale to Facebook for a staggering $19 Billion. That is an impressive sum of money for any company, much less one that started what? Five whole years ago?
It’s the tech entrepreneurial dream all over again. Find a brilliant idea, or a simple one that’s been overlooked. See untapped potential, work maniacally on your project for a couple years, gain a massive user base, sell for $X Million/Billion. Show everybody that you had greatness in you all along.
I want to put a spin on that story and adapt it to home. You’re a Nigerian developer. WhatsApp’s price tag sale makes you feel giddy with excitement. It could be you! Couldn’t it? You could write a local messaging app and wind up as the first local internet billionaire in dollars! – not even naira. Your head is bursting with thoughts of what you would do with that money, so you’re anxious to start immediately. Before you rush off, you might want to consider a few things.
One, it’s already been done. There is no great dearth of social messaging platforms in the country. WhatsApp and the now-liberated BBM are doing excellent jobs in that regard. What do you have to offer? Slightly better features? Gimmicks? No one cares. With these things, it’s less about what does it have? and more of, ‘who else is using it’ ? It matters not if your new software can not only send messages but also…conduct video calls over GPRS (which would be a technological miracle) if too few people are interested in using it. In real life, it is much less likely that you could create an application that does what no other developer is technically capable of.
Two, The reason Facebook bought WhatsApp is not because it is incapable of easily duplicating the program’s functionality. WhatsApp is hardly, hardly complicated, relatively. Rather, the purchase was largely motivated by the desire to gain access to WhatsApp’s diverse subscriber base of at least 400 million. Diverse is the key word. Theoretically, If you somehow managed to win over the majority of phone users in Nigeria to YaApp(Can I call your imaginary app that? ), it would not command a valuation in any way close to what Facebook paid. Why? It’s just one country for starters. It’s also a developing country. Users have smaller pockets and so do the Advertisers that Facebook could earn money through.
Three? I should go on? Facebook could pay that sum in cash and stocks….because Facebook also made it’s ‘money’ that way. Fast…Lightning fast. On Earth, Information Technology is currently on Fire, and the United States practically lies at the heart of that inferno. There’s no way, Enyimba United could pay anything close, anything remotely comparable to what Manchester United would pay, if they were both interested in the same player. Does that make sense? See?
But, if you go ahead, write YaApp, make that billion despite these reasons I have outlined? Please don’t forget that I helped you identify potential pitfalls and that I was only trying to help. Truth!
Till next time,