HalloApp is a private ad-free social network from two early WhatsApp employees

Two of the first employees behind WhatsApp have emerged with a new private social network called HalloApp.

Starting Monday, anyone can download the HalloApp and subscribe to the Apple App Store and Google Play on Android devices. There are many similarities between HalloApp and WhatsApp: the app is designed for group or one-on-one chats with close friends and family, the only way you can find people is by knowing their phone number, messages are encrypted, and there are no ads.

While other startups over the years have tried and failed to build successful social networks of close friends (the RIP path), the lineage of two HalloApp founders, Neeraj Arora and Michael Donoghue, makes this particular effort noteworthy. They both worked at WhatsApp before and after Facebook bought it for $22 billion. Arora was WhatsApp’s chief business officer until 2018 and a key figure in negotiating the Facebook deal. Donohue was WhatsApp’s director of engineering for nearly nine years before leaving Facebook in 2019.

Arora and Donoghue declined to be interviewed for this story, citing a desire to avoid press attention early in the app’s life. But they recently sat down for an interview on Christopher Lockheed’s “Follow You Different” podcast, where Arora said, “I think the best way to grow is to create a great product that people love to tell their friends and family about.”

HalloApp is divided into four main tabs – a home feed of posts from your friends, group chats, one-to-one chats, and settings – and its overall beauty is minimal. There are no algorithms to sort posts or group chats.

Arora laid out the philosophy behind HalloApp in a company blog post on Monday, positioning it as an antidote to traditional social media sharing, or “the cigarette of the 21st century.”

“Imagine your online friends were your real friends,” he wrote. “Imagine your feed wasn’t full of people and posts you didn’t care about. Imagine scrolling through meaningful moments and seeing what you want to see — not what the algorithm wants you to see. Imagine not being treated like a producer.”

Although the blog post doesn’t specifically name Facebook, it’s no secret that WhatsApp founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton left Facebook due to disagreements over plans to monetize WhatsApp through ads. Acton, who now funds encrypted messaging app Signal, famously tweeted “#deletefacebook” during the height of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. WhatsApp still doesn’t have ads, but Facebook recently pushed companies that sell merchandise and interact with customers on the app.

Ultimately, HalloApp plans to charge users for subscription features, mimicking how WhatsApp originally achieved before Facebook bought it. Currently, the 12-person company is taking out an undisclosed amount of money that the co-founders have raised from investors.

Leave a reply:

Your email address will not be published.