WhatsApp Co-Founders Could Be Giving Up $1.3 Billion Collectively For Ditching Facebook

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor
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WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is giving up $900 million after deciding to leave Facebook, the social media giant he worked for after purchasing his firm, according to a report published Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

Jan Koum, the other co-founder, who is reportedly set to leave in August, is expected to forfeit around $400 million, meaning the two highly influential tech entrepreneurs would be sacrificing $1.3 billion in total. The substantial losses are expected to be due to millions of unvested stocks, reported TheWSJ, although the exact amount is not yet known. Facebook originally acquired WhatsApp for nearly $19 billion in 2014.

“It is time. #deletefacebook,” Acton, a computer programmer who helped create an extremely popular, protected messaging service along with Koum, tweeted in March. His definitive-sounding declaration was likely a response to a number of revelations, some more recent than others, which portrayed Facebook as company that doesn’t care about how its platform and features are used or manipulated.

A lot of people — purportedly unwitting to the exchange in which it gets a free service and Facebook does what it wants with the user data on online tendencies — became furious to find out that a data analytics firm that worked with President Donald Trump’s campaign for a period of time was creating unique profiles of certain users for ad targeting purposes. Facebook ultimately rescinded its partnership with the company, arguing that it violated contractual agreements over what it was allowed to do with the data pulled from the platform.

A month or so later, reports said that Koum, a managing director at Facebook, was leaving the tech giant at some point due to an apparent divergence of opinion over where the company is headed. One point of contention, another WSJ report claimed, was centered around how Facebook makes money — through targeted advertisements — and how WhatsApp always prided itself over a lack of embedded marketing.

“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,” Koum wrote on Facebook, while denoting that he is “feeling emotional.” “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.”

Using his own platform, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg directly commented on Koum’s post.

“Jan: I will miss working so closely with you,” Zuckerberg wrote. “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.”

Zuckerberg had kind words for his former executive colleague; however, Koum doesn’t mention Facebook, nor does he allude to the place he technically worked under for years. (RELATED: Facebook Feels The Pressure As Whistleblowers Step Forward)

It’s not clear how much ill will there may have been between Acton, Koum and Zuckerberg, Sandberg and other Facebook veterans. Koum reportedly disliked some of the factors that came with working at such a large corporation, making complaints about seemingly trivial details like office chairs.

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