Since Thursday, we’ve all been glued to the news about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. While the war takes place far from Asia, this war is not just about Ukraine because every day, we all use tech products that are made with Ukrainian roots. Here are some:
If you’re using WhatsApp as the primary way to message to your kakis, then you have Jan Koum to thank. He’s the computer engineer who founded WhatsApp. Born in Kyiv, Koum grew up in Fastiv before emigrating to the USA (California) and created WhatsApp in 2009. The app quickly overtook SMS as a primary text messaging service. By 2014, Facebook – who initially declined to hire Koum two years prior – acquired WhatsApp for US$19 billion.
Do you constantly use PayPal to fund your online shopping? The payment gateway was co-founded by software engineer Maksymilian “Max” Levchin, another Ukrainian-American. The company he co-founded was initially known as x.com (a merger with Elon Musk’s online financial services company) and was renamed PayPal in 2001. Kyiv-born Levchin was known primarily for his contributions to PayPal’s anti-fraud efforts, and is the co-creator of the Gausebeck-Levchin test (the commercialised CAPTCHA test).
Do you like using Instagram Stories with their huge library of filters? It has its roots in Looksery, which has a team mostly stationed in Odessa led by Yuri Monastyrshin. Looksery’s mobile app enabled users to modify their appearance for a real-time video chat, and was acquired by Snap (of Snapchat) in 2015 to incorporate its technology. In 2016, Instagram copied this functionality and called it filters.
You may be using Grammarly for your school projects to check your English grammar, but did you know that the company was founded in 2009 by Ukrainian-Canadians, Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn? The company is now based in San Francisco but also has offices in Kyiv, and was initially developed as MyDropBox which was created to check essays for plagiarism at universities.
Mac users may know CleanMyMac, an app for decluttering Mac OS systems by automating or simplifying the removal of unnecessary files. The app is developed by Kyiv-based company, MacPaw (it’s currently giving a free CleanMyMac subscription for all media covering the war in Ukraine). Founder Oleksandr Kosovan wrote the code himself in 2008 when he was 21 years old as a hobby project.
Solana (blockchain and cryptocurrency)
Crypto and NFT traders may be familiar with the Solana network, which is currently known as the fastest blockchain in the world, making it cheaper and more sustainable than other networks. Its founder is a Ukrainian-American Anatoly Yakovenko, an engineer with a degree in computer science who grew up in Ukraine in the 80s before migrating to the USA.
Anyone who’s familiar with software development will know GitLab, an open-source end-to-end software development platform founded in 2011. Millions of programmers and organisations from NASA to IBM are its users. Its co-creator is Ukrainian developer Dmitriy Zaporozhets, who made Forbes 30 Under 30 list in 2017, and lives in Ukraine.