The fall… and rise and rise and rise of chat networks

At the end of October 2014, something very important came to an end. After 15 years of changing the way people communicated forever, Microsoft closed down its MSN Windows Live service.

Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype for £5.1 billion in 2012 meant it was only a matter of time before it was finally closed. China was the last territory to migrate the service to Skype; other countries did so 12 months earlier.

The closure in October 2014 followed that of AOL’s Instant Messenger

Two years later, Yahoo Messenger followed suit and closed its public chat service in 2012, explaining only that it was no longer a “core Yahoo product.” More pointedly, the ubiquitous use of the mobile phone and messaging relevant to that more immediate platform had made them redundant.

The cessation of these networks signalled a nominal end to the first wave of chat networks before the tsunami of chat ingénues Snapchat and WhatsApp swept over them. While early chat networks went from thousands to millions of users, these chat networks have billions of users… and are worth billions of dollars.
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook (who else?) for $19 billion (£13.5 billion) in 2013, and a $500 million (£350 million) investment in Snapchat in 2015 now values the company at more than $20 billion (£14 billion).