After Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Whatsapp Co-founder Jan Koum Quits Facebook

Kelley Robertson
May 1, 2018

In March, Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp with Mr. Koum and who has since left the company, wrote on Twitter that it was time to delete Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica revelations. "I'm leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined". Facebook bought WhatsApp back in February 2014 for $19.3 billion. The popular service was developed in 2009 by Koum and Brian Acton, who left Facebook previous year and has recently criticized WhatsApp's owner as a reckless abuser of user data.

"It's been nearly a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an fantastic journey with some of the best people", Koum wrote on a Facebook post.

Koum's Monday post announcing his departure did not mention privacy concerns, and did not specifically address his roles in Facebook outside WhatsApp.

WhatsApp is the largest messaging service in the world with 1.5 billion monthly users.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg replied to Koum's post and said he respected his decision.

Facebook scrapped WhatsApp's annual fee but Mr Koum and Mr Zuckerberg ruled out advertising on WhatsApp. "Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp". He did not give a date for his departure and could not immediately be reached for comment. But Zuckerberg has reportedly pushed WhatsApp to "move faster" to grow its business base, despite scrutiny from the United Kingdom government about its privacy policy as well European Commission surrounding the company.

The company rapidly gained global popularity, with some 450 million users by the time the founders agreed to sell to Facebook in February 2014, following five days of talks that ended on Valentine's Day.

Reporter Elizabeth Dwoskin claims that the move came as a result of Koum's disagreements with "Facebook's attempts to use [WhatsApp]'s personal data and weaken its encryption".

The issues at stake include Facebook's demand for more user data being attached to WhatsApp profiles-in spite of the app's buyout including promises that it would "remain autonomous and operate independently". "It is time", Acton tweeted.

Messrs. Koum and Acton had clauses in their contracts with Facebook that allowed an acceleration of their contracts if Facebook added advertising to the app. Mr. Koum's contract with Facebook wasn't supposed to end until November, the person familiar with the matter said.

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