WhatsApp co-founder and CEO Jan Koum announced on Monday he’s leaving the popular, Facebook-owned messaging app.
Koum’s exit comes only hours after a Washington Post report he’d been looking to leave the company after “clashing” with Facebook execs over its handling of user privacy. WhatsApp made all of its messages end-to-end encrypted in 2016 — a feature Facebook Messenger has as well, although users have to opt-in to it.
“I’m leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined,” said Koum in a Facebook post announcing the decision. 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.
WhatsApp was bought by Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, only five years after launching. The messaging app continued to grab users across the globe, climbing to 1.5 billion monthly users earlier this year.
“Jan: I will miss working so closely with you,” commented Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Koum’s post. “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.”
Koum’s departure follows in the footsteps of co-founder Brian Acton leaving the company last September. Acton has went on to criticize Facebook since leaving the company, saying “it is time” to join the #DeleteFacebook movement in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data leak.