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.
6 Tech Giants Shaking Up News, From Jeff Bezos to Laurene Powell Jobs (Photos)
Tech leaders are increasingly intertwined with the news business. While some want to support old properties, one set out to destroy a new one. Here they are.
Jeff Bezos – Washington Post
The Amazon founder purchased the Washington Post in 2013 for $250 million in cash. President Trump has called the paper the “Amazon Washington Post.”
The Facebook co-founder purchased The New Republic in 2012, becoming executive chairman and publisher. However, he sold the venerable political magazine to Win McCormack in 2016, saying he "underestimated the difficulty of transitioning an old and traditional institution into a digital media company in today’s quickly evolving climate."
The eBay founder is a well-known philanthropist who created First Look Media, a journalism venture behind The Intercept. Inspired by Edward Snowden's leaks. Omidyar teamed up with journalists Glenn Greenwald, Jeremy Scahill and Laura Poitras to launch the website “dedicated to the kind of reporting those disclosures required: fearless, adversarial journalism.”
The PayPal co-founder doesn’t own a news organization, but he makes this list because he essentially ended one -- Gawker -- proving once again the power of an angry billionaire. Thiel secretly bankrolled Hulk Hogan’s sex-tape lawsuit against Gawker Media because he was upset that the website once outed him as gay. Hogan won the defamation lawsuit against the site that sent its parent company into bankruptcy, and Gawker.com is no longer operating.
OK, so Facebook isn’t technically a news organization… yet. However, the company is preparing to launch its much-anticipated lineup of original content later this summer, and there are also signs that it's on the verge of becoming an even bigger media platform.
Campbell Brown, Head of News Partnerships at Facebook, confirmed last week it’s developing a subscription service for publishers willing to post articles directly to Facebook Instant Articles, rather than their native websites.