I am now back in San Francisco. Whenever I come back here from other places, I cannot help but notice how different this place is from anywhere else — the air, the environment, the lifestyle, how people spend their time, and even the language spoken.
It’s obvious, but I am reminded how different our lives can be depending on where and when we are. Say, take people from London in the 19th century, Paris in the 20th century, or San Francisico in the 21st century, and their lifestyles and their “norms” will differ drastically. I want to create something that is deemed as “obviously necessary” by people who live and breathe in this particular era and location.
By “something” I mean a new communication style. What Twitter and Facebook have in common is their intrinsic value: they each offer a special communication style that are widely accepted by their users, driving active user engagement. This unique communication style is intrinsically siginificant for their product.
Ever since the emmergence of language, we humans have come up with many styles of communication. Telephone communication was revolutionary, yet the internet has had an even greater impact, and its network has reached the farthest corners of this planet.
Just this past week, WhatsApp’s monthly active user count has reached 1 billion marker. Here we have a communication tool used by a billion people, and to think that this feat is achieved by a young startup, founded in 2009!
According to Japan’s first phone directory published in 1890, only 155 people from Tokyo and 42 people from Yokohama signd up when the telephone line was opened between the two cities.
By 1941 (tha is when the Second World War broke out,) the user count had grown rapidly and reached a million users. This, however, is a relatively slow growth compared to the penetration rate of new communication tools of today; despite this being a state-run undertaking, telephone usage penetration grew slowly, over a period of time.
SnapChat was founded in 2011, and Yik Yak in 2013. If they grow at the current pace, they will scale and reach a similar milestone, if not a billion, pretty quickly.
SnapChat champions ephemeral, visual communcation. Similarily, Yik Yak offers anonymous communication based on the geographic location — they both created completely new styles of communication.
It is easy to dismiss these ideas as being silly, but the impact ain’t small: when our communcation style changes, the media, commerce, and ecosystem itself will follow suit and change eventually.
Just when we thought Facebook has come to have a monopoly in this market and put an end to it, communcation styles continue to evolve, and they will never stay the same.
I feel happy and excited to have given the chance to develop our product in the forefront of such changes, here in San Francisco.