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

The two earliest employees behind WhatsApp have risen on a new private social network called HalloApp.

Starting Monday, anyone can download and register for HalloApp Apple App Store and Google Play On Android devices. There are many parallels between HalloApp and WhatsApp: the app is designed for group chats or individual chats with close friends and family. The only way to find people is to know their phone numbers, messages are encrypted and there are no ads.

While other startups have over the years tried to build successful social networks for close friends (RIP path), The pedigree of the two founders of HalloApp, Neeraj Arora and Michael Donohue, makes this special effort significant. They both worked on WhatsApp before and after Facebook bought it for $ 22 billion. Arora was WhatsApp’s corporate director until 2018 and a key figure in negotiating the Facebook deal. And Donohue was WhatsApp’s design manager for nearly nine years before he left Facebook in 2019.

Both Arora and Donohue refused to interview this story, citing a desire to avoid press attention early in the app’s lifecycle. But they sat down recently for an interview with Christopher Lochhead “Follow 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.”

HalloApp is divided into four main tabs – home feed for friends, group chats, individual chats and settings – and has very little overall aesthetics. There are no algorithms that sort messages or group discussions.

Arora presented the philosophy behind HalloApp in the company’s blog post on Monday, where it is an antidote to traditional, engagement-based social media or the “21st century cigarette”.

“Imagine that your friends online were your real friends,” he wrote. Imagine your feed wasn’t full of people and posts you didn’t care about. Imagine browsing through relevant moments and seeing what you wanted you to see – not what the algorithm wanted you to see. Imagine not being treated like a product. “

While the blog post doesn’t explicitly mention Facebook, it’s no secret that WhatsApp’s two founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, left Facebook over disagreements over plans to make money from WhatsApp with ads. Acton, who now funds the encrypted messaging app Signal, was known to tweet the “#deletefacebook” at the height of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. WhatsApp still has no ads, but Facebook has recently been working to get companies to sell goods and interact with customers on the app.

Eventually, HalloApp plans to charge users for features on subscription, imitating how WhatsApp originally commercialized before Facebook bought it. So far, the 12-person company has an unspent amount of money that the founders collected from investors.

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