The Chief Executive Officer of WhatsApp Jan Koum is planning to leave the company after an argument with parent company Facebook over strategy, and Facebook’s alleged attempts to use personal data and weaken its encryption. Koum, who sold WhatsApp to Facebook for more than $19 billion in 2014, also plans to step down from Facebook’s board of directors.
“Part of Facebook’s success has been to digest acquisitions, successfully monetize them, and integrate them into their advertising machine,” said Daniel Ives, Chief Strategy Officer and Head of Technology Research for research firm GBH Insights. “But WhatsApp has been more challenging because of resistance from the founders. This was a massive culture clash.”
Koum wrote a Facebook post regarding the issue:
“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. 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.
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.”
In response to this, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg responded to Koum in a comment saying,
“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.”