Wednesday, Oct 27, 2021
International Finance
Business Leaders

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton leaving company to start his own foundation

The Stanford alumnus co-founded the popular messaging app with Ukrainian immigrant Jan Koum in 2009

Brian Acton, who co-founded WhatsApp along with Jan Koum in 2009, announced in a Facebook post that he is leaving the company. He said that he plans to start a new chapter in his life and start a non-profit.

A Stanford alumnus, Acton co-founded WhatsApp with Ukrainian immigrant Jan Koum in 2009. The duo worked at Yahoo before starting WhatsApp.

Acton, who started at Facebook when WhatsApp was acquired for $19 billion in 2014, is the lesser-known of WhatsApp’s two co-founders. Ironically, Acton interviewed at Facebook back in 2009 after leaving a job at Yahoo, but he was not hired.

Acton led engineering internally for WhatsApp, and a source close to the company says he was a big advocate for WhatsApp’s push into encryption. His role won’t be filled by any one employee, according to a company spokesperson.

Acton announced the departure to colleagues at a WhatsApp all-hands meeting at Facebook headquarters on Tuesday, and posted the news to his Facebook page later that afternoon.

After 8 years at WhatsApp, I have decided to move on and start a new chapter in my life.

I am very fortunate at my age to have the flexibility to take new risks and focus on what I’m passionate about. I’ve decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, and now it’s time to just focus and execute. I’ll have more to share in the coming months.

This decision is, of course, a tough one. I’m proud of what our team has accomplished in only a few years, and it’s humbling to see that so many people rely on WhatsApp every day.

About Brian Acton

Brian Acton is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. He is the co-founder (with Jan Koum) of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application which was acquired by Facebook Inc. in February 2014 for US$19 billion. He was formerly employed at Yahoo Inc.

In 1998, Jan Koum was hired by Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer. Shortly afterward he met Acton while working at Ernst & Young as a security tester. Over the next nine years, they worked at Yahoo. Acton invested in the dotcom boom and lost millions in the dot-com bubble of 2000.

In 2014, Koum and Acton agreed to sell WhatsApp to Facebook for approximately $19 billion USD in cash and stock. Forbes estimates that Acton held over 20% stake in the company, making his net worth around $3.8 billion. According to Acton’s personal Twitter feed, he was turned down for employment by both Twitter and Facebook in 2009.

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