WhatsApp founder leaves the company after privacy disputes with Facebook

Jan Koum, the Co-Founder and CEO of WhatsApp, is officially leaving the company, reportedly as a result of various clashes and disagreements with Facebook.

The Washington Post:

Conflicts soon arose over how WhatsApp would make money. Facebook scrapped the 99-cent annual charge, and Koum and Acton continued to oppose the advertising model. [...] The founders also clashed with Facebook over building a mobile payments system on WhatsApp in India.

Encryption was also said to be an issue:

Facebook executives wanted to make it easier for businesses to use its tools, and WhatsApp executives believed that doing so would require some weakening of its encryption.

It also sounds like the problems extend beyond Koum:

Ultimately, Koum was worn down by the differences in approach, the people said. Other WhatsApp employees are demoralized and plan to leave in November, four years and a month after the Facebook acquisition, when they are allowed to exercise all their stock options under the terms of the Facebook deal, according to the people.

Koum posted on his personal Facebook confirming his departure, but not stating any reasons other than it being time to move on:

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.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on Koum's post:

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.

It's unclear who will be replacing Koum's shoes as CEO of WhatsApp, and over the coming months, it'll be interesting to see if his absence has any impact on WhatsApp's features or policies.

If you're a WhatsApp user, what are your thoughts on this?

Joe Maring