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

Two of the first people behind WhatsApp were born with a new private social network called HalloApp.

From Monday everyone can download the HalloApp and log in to Apple’s App Store and Google play on Android devices. There are many parallels between HalloApp and WhatsApp: the app is designed for group or individual chats with close friends and family, the only way to find people is to know their phone number, the messages are encrypted and there are no advertisements.

While other startups have tried over the years to build successful social networks for close friends (RIP path), the family tree of the two co-founders of HalloApp, Neeraj Arora and Michael Donohue, makes this particular effort remarkable. 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. And Donohue was WhatsApp’s technical director for almost nine years before leaving Facebook in 2019.

Both Arora and Donohue declined to be interviewed for this story because they wanted to avoid press attention so early in the app’s life. But they sat down for an interview with Christopher Lochhead recently Podcast “Follow Your Different”where Arora said, “I think the best way to grow is by creating an amazing 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, individual chats, and settings – and its overall aesthetic is very minimal. There are no algorithms for sorting posts or group chats.

Arora laid out the philosophy behind HalloApp in a company blog post on Monday in which it is the antidote to traditional, engagement-driven social media or the “21st century cigarette”.

“Imagine if your friends on the Internet were your real friends,” he wrote. “Imagine if your feed wasn’t filled with people and posts that you don’t care about. Imagine scrolling through meaningful moments and seeing what you want to see – not what the algorithm wanted you to see. Imagine not being treated like a product. “

While the blog post doesn’t specifically name Facebook, it’s no secret that WhatsApp’s two co-founders, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, left Facebook because of disagreements over plans to monetize WhatsApp with ads. Acton, now funding the encrypted messaging app Signal, famously tweeted “#deletefacebook” at the height of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. WhatsApp still doesn’t have ads, but Facebook recently made a foray to get businesses to sell goods and interact with customers through the app.

Finally, HalloApp plans to bill users for features with a subscription to mimic WhatsApp’s original monetization before Facebook bought it. Right now, the 12-person company is running out of an undisclosed amount of money that the co-founders have raised from investors.

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