In May, it was announced that WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum was leaving the company. The news came as Facebook faced criticism in light of the Cambridge Analytica data leaks scandal. Earlier in March, the other WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton had tweeted saying that, it was time to delete Facebook. Acton had resigned from the company in September 2017 and his tweet attracted a lot of attention. Now, a new detailed report in Wall Street Journal has revealed more about why Koum and Acton left Facebook.
According to the Wall Street Journal report, things did not end well between WhatsApp’s founders Acton and Koum, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg. The latter put increasing pressure on the duo for new business models to earn revenue for the messaging app, which WhatsApp’s founders resisted.
In fact, both founders have given up stock worth $1.3 billion in total, after they resigned from the company. The report says, that Koum and Acton had “persistent disagreements in recent years” with Zuckerberg and Sandberg, and “the environment was ‘very passive-aggressive,'” according to one unnamed person, quoted in the article.
There were several cultural incompatibility issues between the employees of WhatsApp and Facebook as well. Additionally, both Zuckerberg and Sandberg asked WhatsApp founders to look at advertising as a revenue model. When Koum and Acton had launched the messaging app, the idea was to keep advertising entirely out.
The report also indicates that Facebook is exploring the idea of adding ads in the Status Feature of WhatsApp. At its F8 Developer conference this year, Facebook revealed that WhatsApp Stories has over 450 million daily users. It also looks like Koum had given in to the idea that advertising on WhatsApp would be inevitable, according to the report.
Koum in his post said he will do things outside of the technology world. It was also reported that both Koum and Acton were opposed to Facebook building a user profile with the app’s data, which would be used across Facebook and its platforms for ad-targeting.
When Koum resigned, Zuckerberg wrote on his page, “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.”
WhatsApp is now under Facebook’s senior executive Chris Daniels, and no separate CEO has been announced for the app.