WhatsApp co-founder and a strong advocate of data privacy, Jan Koum, has decided to quit after reported clashes with parent company Facebook regarding WhatsApp’s encryption policy. Brian Acton, who co-founded the world’s biggest messaging service with Koum had quit WhatsApp back in September to start a foundation after 8 years of work in the company.
Jan Koum announced his decision to quit in a Facebook post.
Here is the full text of his post talking about moving on from Facebook:
“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.”
Mark Zuckerberg responded on Jan Koum’s Facebook post 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.”
As per the Washington Post Jan Koum’s plan to exit comes after clashing with the parent company over WhatApp’s strategy and Facebook’s attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption.
Facebook has battled European regulators over a plan to use WhatsApp user data, including phone numbers, to develop products and target ads. The plan is suspended, but WhatsApp said last week it still wanted to move forward eventually.
Stanford alumnus Acton and Ukrainian immigrant Koum co-founded WhatsApp in 2009. Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion in cash and stock.
WhatsApp, a pun on the phrase “What’s up?,” grew in popularity in part because its encrypted messages are stored on users’ smartphones and not on company servers, making the service more private.
Concerns about Facebook’s handling of personal information have grown since the social network’s admission in March that the data of millions of users was wrongly harvested by political consultancy Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook has taken steps to generate revenue from WhatsApp, which unlike Facebook does not have advertising. WhatsApp’s management has fiercely opposed advertising, saying in 2012 that they did not want to be “just another ad clearinghouse” where the engineering team “spends their day tuning data mining.”
Instead, WhatsApp charged a $1 annual subscription. It dropped that in 2016, moving towards a plan to charge businesses for specialised accounts.