WhatsApp CEO quits over disagreements with Facebook

Jan Koum co-founder and CEO of Whats App speaks at the WSJD Live conference in Laguna Beach California

Koum, a Ukrainian Jewish immigrant to the United States, said in a post on his Facebook page that he is taking time off to pursue interests such as collecting air-cooled Porsches, working on cars and playing ultimate Frisbee.

WhatsApp boasts more than 1.2 billion users worldwide. This spawned a lot of speculation about why the social network would spend so much to own a free messaging service.

Koum and Acton, both former Yahoo employees, launched WhatsApp in 2009.

But even in the early days, there were signs of a mismatch.

Koum and Acton were openly disparaging of the targeted advertising model. They said that online advertising was "a disruption to aesthetics, an insult to your intelligence, and the interruption of your train of thought". Also around the same time, there were rumours of Facebook CSO Alex Stamos leaving the company due to disagreement over similar issues.

The departure of Koum draws into question WhatsApp's chances of retaining its strong privacy hertitage.




"You can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication".

- The year also saw WhatsApp introducing its document-sharing feature, that will allow users to share PDF and DOC files.

"Jan, the work you've done building WhatsApp has connected so many people around the world", the tech executive said. WhatsApp was designed with a disdain for ads and a focus on privacy, but the parent company is now pressured to start making money from its services, The Guardian reports. This program encourages Facebook users to be more proactive in finding companies, such as Cambridge Analytica, that illegally harvest information on their users. They have also resisted Facebook projects to commercialize WhatsApp, which carries no advertisements, including a plan to gain access to WhatsApp users' phone numbers. In 2016 it started sharing some user data, although this led to an European Union fine. Facebook has scrapped its 99 cents annual charge it used to dish out to all of its customers. In particular, it was not satisfied with the "strategy popular service of sending messages and attempts by Facebook to use personal data and to weaken its encryption".

- Following security threats in August, WhatsApp announced that messages will be encrypted in the "latest version" of WhatsApp for iOS and Android.

WhatsApp implemented end-to-end encryption between 2014 and 2016 in response to pressure from privacy groups. Facebook executives wanted to make it easier for businesses to use its tools, and WhatsApp executives believed that doing so would require some weakening of its encryption. A spokeswoman for the Menlo Park, California-based firm declined to say when Koum's departure takes effect. Additionally, Koum is the only founder of a company Facebook acquired who was a member of its board of directors. Acton donated $50 million to the Signal Foundation at the same time.

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