WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum departs Facebook, exodus expected

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Jan Koum, co-founder of WhatsApp, has quit from parent company Facebook.

In a statement on his Facebook profile, Koum says that he will be “taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology.” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg commented on the post, “grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world” and for teaching aspects of encryption.

“Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”

While the departure appears to be genial, The Washington Post reports that Koum has struggled to maintain the independent domain of WhatsApp under Facebook ownership since 2014, which includes the way it treats the data its users submit. It’s especially been strained since multiple controversies have made their impact on Facebook, including the Cambridge Analytica scandal, call data scraping on Android phones and others.

WhatsApp recently agreed with the UK government to stop handing data over to Facebook on investigation of its data policies. Facebook also paid $122 million in fines to the European Commission for “misleading” statements it made in promoting the acquisition of WhatsApp.

WhatsApp has been the highest profile acquisition for Facebook, but it has not been able to generate strong revenue streams from its hundreds of millions of users, walking the line between privacy and profit. Compared to the billions that Facebook was making with targeted advertising, WhatsApp recorded a net loss of $232.5 million in the first half of 2014.

Koum was the only person to have been brought onto the Facebook board of directors from an acquisition. He and WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton had a strong say over the app’s direction. That said, they have fought the Facebook C-suite over catering to features for enterprise users trying to reach customers. Koum and Acton strongly rejected the weakening of its encryption to allow business tools to access certain data on sent messages.

Acton left the company last November. Sources to the Post say that other employees are looking to jump ship in November, when their stock options can be completely exercised.

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About The Author
Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.