WhatsApp and other messengers have become an integral part of our everyday lives these days. However, the pioneer in this area was the messenger service ICQ, which started in the 1990s. But what are the founders of ICQ actually doing today?
Whether WhatsApp, Instagram or Facebook Messenger: There are many ways to network with other people these days. But that was not always so. The millennial generation in particular knows what is meant.
Most of them can probably still remember a chat service very vividly: ICQ. The software, which was released in November 1996, revolutionized the communication behavior of an entire generation.
Who actually are the founders of ICQ?
ICQ originally comes from Israel and was developed by a start-up called Mirabilis. This consisted of a group of students: Yair Goldfinger, Sefi Vigisier, Amnon Amir and Arik Vardi.
With the release of ICQ, Mirabilis delivered the first Internet-wide instant messaging service in the modern sense. Back then, users could chat with one or more people at the same time. All they needed was internet access.
The software was also free to download. With one click on the ICQ flower logo you were online. After that, all you had to do was wait for the flower of your contacts to turn from red to green so that a chat could begin.
AOL takes over Mirabilis and ICQ
In 1998, the four founders of Mirabilis decided to sell ICQ and the company to AOL for $407 million. In 2000, the service had more than 100 million users and was the market leader. After that, however, things went downhill. Because imitators and competing programs reduced ICQ's success.
That's why AOL decided to resell ICQ or Mirabilis in 2010, which meant that it passed into the hands of the Russian investment company Digital Sky Technologies. The company is now called Mail.ru Group.
What are the four founders of ICQ doing today?
Yair Goldfinger is the co-founder and CEO of AppCard, a customer loyalty platform. Previously, he also founded the online advertising company Dotomi, which focuses on creating personal and timely messages between marketers and customers.
He holds various patents in the field of instant messaging and has actively invested in several Israeli start-ups. He is also committed to training young managers.
There is no clear information about Sefi Vigisier's whereabouts. There is only a link to Amnon Amir's LinkedIn profile. And the fate of Arik Vardi is also unclear. If you search for him, either the famous Israeli pianist Arie Vardi appears in the results list or Vardi's father, the Israeli investment mogul Yossi Vardi.
“Yossi”, as he also wants to be called, had invested trustingly in the idea of his son and his friends. “I knew they were very talented,” he told the BBC. “So I gave them a little money, and as we say, the rest is history.”
What happened to ICQ?
In 2022, the new messenger will reach around 11 million monthly users. An investigation by the Brazilian news magazine Journalism Center However, in 2023 it was revealed that ICQ was being used to freely exchange child pornography due to lax moderation guidelines.