WhatsApp CEO, Co-Founder Jan Koum Says He's Leaving Facebook


The Washington Post reported Monday that Koum is stepping down because of disagreements over Facebook's attempts to use the personal data of WhatsApp customers, as well as efforts to weaken the app's encryption. On his Facebook page, Koum wrote that he is taking time to "do things I enjoy outside of technology", including "collecting rare air-cooled Porsches" and "playing ultimate frisbee".

WhatsApp's management has fiercely opposed advertising, saying in 2012 that they did not want to be "just another ad clearinghouse" where the engineering team "spends their day tuning data mining". And six months after WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton left the company and joined the #DeleteFacebook movement.

Facebook has battled European regulators over a plan to use WhatsApp user data, including phone numbers, to develop products and target ads. Facebook and WhatsApp declined to comment on Koum's departure. "Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible". At that time of buyout by Mark Zuckerberg-led social media giant, WhatsApp also promised users that these values wouldn't be compromised. Facebook executives in an earnings call last week stressed that the company can maintain its business model while still protecting users' privacy. 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.

The departure of WhatsApp CEO and cofunder Jan Koum comes after Facebook's biggest privacy scandal to date.

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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.

Despite WhatsApp's eye-popping acquisition price of $19 billion, the messaging service reportedly hasn't prioritized generating revenue for its corporate parent.

Though the Cambridge Analytica revelations contributed to a climate of broader frustration with Facebook among WhatsApp employees, Koum made his decision to leave prior to the scandal, the people said. The app now has more than one billion monthly users. Before launching WhatsApp, Koum was hired by Yahoo in 1997 as an infrastructure engineer. Zuckerberg wished Koum well on Facebook.