Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp along with Jan Koum in 2009, announced in a Facebook post earlier today that he is leaving the company. He said that he plans to start a new chapter in his life and start a non-profit.
About his decision to leave, Acton elaborated in his post,
I am very fortunate at my age to have the flexibility to take new risks and focus on what I’m passionate about. I’ve decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, and now it’s time to just focus and execute. I’ll have more to share in the coming months.
This decision is, of course, a tough one. I’m proud of what our team has accomplished in only a few years, and it’s humbling to see that so many people rely on WhatsApp every day.
WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook in 2014, for $19 billion — $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock, plus $3 billion in RSUs (Restricted stock units are not fully transferable until certain conditions have been met). Acton is now estimated to have a net worth of $6.5 billion, according to Recode.
Acton was a former employee at Yahoo! and had actually interviewed for a job at Facebook in 2009 but wasn’t hired. He had tweeted about the incident:
Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life's next adventure.
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) August 3, 2009
Twitter too denied him a job and he went on to co-found WhatsApp, a free cross-platform instant messaging service for smartphones. According to Facebook, WhatsApp has a worldwide user base of 1.3 billion monthly active users. While WhatsApp is still free for end consumers, the company has been experimenting with ways to monetise on the B2B front. ‘WhatsApp for Business’ as it is being called recently saw a soft launch in India and BookMyShow is one of the company’s known partners and early adopters.