Daily Report: WhatsApp Is Embraced by World’s Immigrants

The technology industry is full of immigrant success stories. There is Intel’s Andy Grove, the chief executive who helped guide the computer industry into its modern era. Google has Sergey Brin. Microsoft? Satya Nadella. Run through nearly any big tech company and you’ll find its executive ranks filled with people who were born outside the United States.

That brings us to Jan Koum, a founder of the messaging service WhatsApp, which Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014.

That Mr. Koum is also an immigrant is not unusual in Silicon Valley. What does make him unusual is the popularity of WhatsApp among immigrants. As Farhad Manjoo writes, WhatsApp has become a low-cost communications line between countries, even as some countries occasionally try to block its use.

The popularity of WhatsApp, with more than a billion users, is by no means limited to the world’s immigrants, of course. People of all sorts have found it a useful — and simple — means of communication.

But as Farhad writes, because it is free and has a fairly strong record on privacy and security, WhatsApp has become a part of immigrant life around the world. And its early adoptees often are older people who encourage their children or grandchildren to start using it so they can stay in touch.

As Mr. Koum put it, the app “was designed in part by someone living the immigrant experience every day.”

By JIM KERSTETTER for The New York Times
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