WhatsApp founder deletes Facebook and tries to atone


In 2018, WhatsApp founder Brian Acton responded to the Cambridge Analytica scandal by tweeting "It is time. #deletefacebook." He also left the company, walking away from $850 million in unvested stock rather than accede to Facebook's plans to add advertising and commercial messaging, a purpose at odds with WhatsApp's encrypted environment. In 2014, Acton and his co-founder Jan Koum, sold WhatsApp to Facebook for $22 billion. Acton's wanted instead to monetise WhatsApp by charging users tiny amounts per message after a specified number of free messages had been sent, an idea Sheryl Sandberg dismissed with "It won't scale". 

Trouble surfaced soon after the sale was agreed, when Acton and Koum told he EU that Facebook and WhatsApp had no plans to merge data. In fact, Acton later learned, Facebook already had such plans (the company wound up paying $122 million in fines). Acton donated $50 million to create a foundation for Signal, essentially working to recreate WhatsApp as he intended to be originally.


writer: Parmy Olson
publication: Forbes

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