Jan Koum, Co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, is moving on from Facebook

2nd May 2018
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The WhatsApp Co-Founder/CEO and also Facebook board member Jan Koum is moving on. He announced in a Facebook post,

“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.

Jan Koum (Image: Shutterstock)

“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.”

Earlier on April 30, The Washington Post had reported that Jan would leave because of Facebook’s data policy. The SEC filing shows that he will also be leaving his role on the Board of Directors at Facebook. 

Brian Acton, the other Co-founder of WhatsApp, had left in November last year and openly supported the #DeleteFacebook movement too.

A year after its acquisition, Facebook had pressured WhatsApp to change its terms-of-service, and the parent company gained access to the phone numbers of all the active WhatsApp users. Given that WhatsApp messages are fully encrypted and the users’ data is safe, it is something that doesn’t work for the parent company Facebook. Facebook collects as much data as it can and, as the Cambridge Analytica breach has shown, it can be rather less-than-perfect in its treatment all of that data.

TechCrunch reported that one of their sources confirmed that Jan had been considering leaving for a year.

According to Bloomberg, Jan is leaving before his stock award fully vests and this means he may be losing almost a $1 billion in Facebook stock. So far, he has sold over $7 billion in Facebook stock.

In response to Jan’s Facebook post, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, responded with the following message: “Jan: I will miss working so closely with you. 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.”

While the shadow of the Cambridge Analytica breach looms over Facebook, it looks like its business as usual at Facebook, given its Q1 2018 earnings saw a 63 percent rise in profits. Also, as its two-day conference F8 concludes today, Facebook is not just addressing the data usage issues, but also announced new features. With the WhatsApp Co-founders out of the company, Facebook may have free reign to use the data WhatsApp collects. It will be worth watching to see what direction the company takes from this point forward.

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