Last week Facebook made a monumental deal to acquire the mobile messaging company WhatsApp for a whopping 19 billion dollars. That amount of money is more than NASA’s budget for 2014; more than than the GDP for the Democratic Republic of Congo; more than the GDP of 85 of the 193 countries in the world. But after working for 7 years in international entrepreneurship development the story of the startups success and the money they made on the deal isn’t what jumped out at me. What this acquisition means is that once again the world has gotten smaller and the ability for people to communicate globally got easier.
WhatsApp is the most widely used mobile messaging tool throughout much of Europe, Latin America and Africa. The acquisition of WhatsApp will combine one of the worlds largest networks with one of the worlds most widely used mobile messaging app.
Spending everyday communicating with entreprenuers around the globe over the last seven years always started with the same first question “How can I reach you?” And I have used practically every platform, Skype, Hangouts, GChat, Facebook, Cisco Telepresence, Vonage VOIP calling, name it and I have tried it. While traveling WhatsApp was the app to connect with people without having to spend thousands on roaming fees – everywhere has WiFi now. The world now has pourous borders and all it takes is a mobile phone or a wifi connection.
What this means for entrepreneurs and startups is that they are not limited to their physical community to find and work with talented people. Just because your CEO is based in Austin doesnt mean his CTO can’t be based in San Francisco, with his development team based in Sri Lanka, Sweden, Sierra Leonne and the Seychelles. And the CFO in Chile.
I have worked for companies where members of the team have been in Chicago with developers in Slovakia. Currently at YSN we are mobile, with some members of the team in DC and others in Boston, NYC, and LA. We have used developers in Australia, and partner with organizations from Malayisia to Algeria.
With the amount of applications and platforms that allow communication on a global scale, there are no limitations to how your team can be developed and expanded. Young people have the ability to experience other cultures and communicate with people from an infinite number of backgrounds — more than any past generation. One doesn’t have to physically travel to experience all the opportunities out there.
There will always be value in face-to-face meetings; but with the marriage of global communication platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook, and the constant growth of communication technology, we may not be that far off from accessible virtual communication tools that allow teams to work from all corners of the planet creating new and amazing things. We will come to the immigration conversation later.