Four years after WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook, co-founder Jan Koum has announced that he’s leaving the social media company. While his post makes no mention of it, it’s been reported that Koum and Facebook’s numerous disagreements around privacy may have played a part in the departure.
WhatsApp was sold to the company back in 2014 for an insane $US19 billion ($25.2 billion), with $US3 billion ($3.98 billion) of that consisting of Facebook stock given to Koum and his co-founder Brian Acton, who left the company in September 2017.
Koum announced his departure in a personal Facebook post today. You can suss out the entire thing below.
It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people. But it is time for me to move on. I’ve been blessed to work with such an incredibly small team and see how a crazy amount of focus can produce an app used by so many people all over the world.
I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined. The team is stronger than ever and it’ll continue to do amazing things. I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee. And I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside. Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible.
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg replied to the post in a comment, stating that he’ll “miss working so closely” with him.
“I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”
I gotta say, Porsches and ultimate frisbee sounds way better than dealing with Facebook’s privacy issues, a topic both Acton and Koum are extremely passionate about. Since the pair created WhatsApp in 2009, privacy and encryption has always been a major priority for them. When they sold to Facebook, the duo vowed to maintain the same standard for the app moving forward.
When WhatsApp became completely encrypted in 2016, Koum and Acton even pushed back on government agencies who called for back doors to be built into it. While the duo resisted pushes for change from Facebook, they caved to pressure from the company last year, changing the app’s terms of service to allow the social media platform to access WhatsApp users’ phone numbers.
Facebook also wanted to ditch the 99 cent subscription fee in order to grow the WhatsApp user base and implement advertising for revenue, a move Koum would not allow.
Good on old mate for standing up for what he believes in, particularly against a company who has fucked up with personal data more than once. We don’t know for sure if that’s why he left the company, but I’d wager it played a part in his decision.
And look, at the end of the day, they guy is obnoxiously loaded. He’s gonna be fine.Source: Tech Crunch
Image: Getty Images / Tobias Hase