Published: Tue, May 01, 2018
Industry | By Jeannie Evans

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits over privacy disagreements with Facebook

WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits over privacy disagreements with Facebook

The co-founder of WhatsApp - the messaging app that Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014, its largest-ever acquisition - is leaving the company, CNBC reports.

Acton left the messaging service company in September to start a foundation, after spending eight years with WhatsApp.

"It's been nearly a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an unbelievable journey with some of the best people", Koum, WhatsApp's chief executive, said in a post on his Facebook page referring to co-founder Brian Acton.

Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, said in a comment on Mr. Koum's Facebook post that he would miss working with Mr. Koum.

Koum's departure comes just a day before Facebook's annual f8 developer conference, where the company is looking to move beyond the Cambridge Analytica scandal and the associated privacy backlash, but this announcement might just make those efforts a bit harder - especially since it brings back memories of Whatsapp co-founder Brian Acton and his departure from the company. According to the Washington Post, Koum's departure is the result of clashes over issues like encryption, and he is also expected to step down from Facebook's board of directors.

The messaging app continued to grab users across the globe, climbing to 1.5 billion monthly users earlier this year.

In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook's privacy practices have come under the microscope, with momentum gathering behind the #DeleteFacebook movement.

Koum and Acton started WhatsApp in 2009, charging US$0.99 annually for private communications and gathered nearly 500 million users by 2014, according to the Washington Post. "But it is time for me to move on", wrote Koum on his Facebook profile. "Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible".

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Koum's timeline, writing he was thankful for what Koum taught him about "about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people's hands".

The WhatsApp founders added end-to-end encryption to the app in 2016. "Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp".

But with Facebook keen to score some returns on its investment, the social networking giant eventually got WhatsApp to alter its terms of service to give it access to users' phone numbers, as well as other data that it could use to benefit its broader business.

WhatsApp also runs no ads.

Another person familiar with the matter said Mr. Koum won't leave immediately and is expected to walk away with his Facebook stock nearly fully vested.

Like this: