Jan Koum, WhatsApp co-founder, CEO and Board member of Facebook is leaving (Few days to Facebook F8) the company to start something different in his own word which is doing something he enjoys outside of technology. This came to limelight via a Facebook post wrote by Jan Koum, writing “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.”
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on Koum’s Facebook post about his departure, writing “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.” This comment was to downplay the idea that Facebook pushed Koum away by trying to reduce the encryption capability of Whatsapp.
Jan Koum sold WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014 for $22 billion. But since then WhatsApp has tripled its user count to 1.5 billion. But at the time, Koum and co-founder Brian Acton were assured by Facebook that WhatsApp wouldn’t have to run ads or merge its data with Facebook’s.
The 40 years old Koum was born and raised near Kiev, Ukraine during the Soviet era. He lived as an only child in a house that didn’t have hot water. He moved to Mountain View, California as a teenager with his mother, and lived off food stamps for a time. He taught himself computer programming and earned a job as an infrastructure engineer at Yahoo in the late 1990s. After working at Yahoo for several years he decided to launch a messaging app through which people could send text messages via the Internet instead of through cellular SMS texting. Brian Acton, a friend of Koum’s at Yahoo, rallied the first seed funding for the new company WhatsApp and consistently railed against the usage of social media as a monetization engine. From a source, he has a sign in his office from his co-founder that reads “No Ads! No games! No gimmicks!” was named a co-founder.
A year and a half later, though, Facebook pressured WhatsApp to change its terms of service and give users’ phone numbers to its parent company. That let Facebook target those users with more precise advertising, such as by letting businesses upload lists of phone numbers to hit those people with promotions. Facebook was eventually fined $122 million by the European Union in 2017.
WashPo writes that Koum was also angered by Facebook executives pushing for a weakening of WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption in order to facilitate its new WhatsApp For Business program. It’s possible that letting multiple team members from a business all interact with its WhatsApp account could be incompatible with strong encryption. Facebook plans to finally make money off WhatsApp by offering bonus services to big companies like airlines, e-commerce sites and banks that want to conduct commerce over the chat app.
Facebook has already started looking for the possible candidate for the Whatsapp CEO role and the close considering person would be the WhatsApp business executive Neeraj Arora, an Ex-Google corporate development manager who’s been with WhatsApp since 2011 — well before the Facebook acquisition.