Jan Koum has left his position at Facebook and report indicates that a dispute on privacy with parent company, Facebook is the biggest factor to his decision to leave.
Four years after the purchase of the popular instant messaging app Whatsapp, it’s co-founder has decided to resign from his position at the company due to what is reported to be a disagreement over privacy policies with parent company, Facebook. In 2014, Facebook bought Whatsapp for $19 billion. Founder of encrypted messaging app has always emphasised the importance of privacy.
With the purchase, Whatsapp continued to stay true to its initial objective and provided users with a complete encryption of communications by adopting an end-to-end encryption system, meanwhile Facebook has always wanted more data to enable it run more targeted ads.
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.
Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg also made a comment 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.
In closed door, it has been reported that both Mark and Jan don’t align on privacy and Jan isn’t happy with the attempts by parent company Whatsapp to use users personal data. A Washington Post reported that advertising and revenue caused the rift and disagreement between both parties. Before Whatsapp was sold to Facebook it has always had a clear value on the “independence and protection of its users’ data”, saying in 2012 they did not want it to be “just another ad clearing house” where engineers “spend their day tuning data mining” and it promised to withhold that after selling to Facebook. It kept to it’s promise in 2016 by adding end-to-end encryption. The recent issue on privacy with Facebook also caused concerns.
Facebook is a powerhouse known to gain most of it’s income from adverts targeted to it’s user, while Whatsapp doesn’t run ads on its platform. Two years after the purchase of Whatsapp, Facebook pushed for a change of terms of service on Whatsapp which allows them to make use of users phone number to target ads efficiently on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook was fined $122 million by the Euroean Union for this then.
Facebook also needed to prove that it’s largest acquisition, Whatsapp was worth every penny.
“Part of Facebook’s success has been to digest acquisitions, successfully monetize them, and integrate them into their advertising machine,” said Daniel Ives, chief strategy officer and head of technology research for research firm GBH Insights. But WhatsApp has been more challenging because of resistance from the founders, he said. “This was a massive culture clash.”
WhatsApp, with 1.5 billion monthly users, is the largest messaging service in the world. Koum and Action both started Whatsapp in 2009 and promised to deliver users messages for as low as 99cent a year. By 2014, the tiny startup has gained over 400 million users already and this caught the attention of Mark Zuckerberg, he then made and offer to purchase the company and made them both instant billionaires after the sale. During the purchase of Whatsapp it had low revenue compared to Facebook who made billions on advertising on it’s platform.
Koum and Action have both blasted the Advertising model used by Facebook before the purchase of the popular instant messaging app. In a blog post they said “no one wakes up excited to see more advertising; no one goes to sleep thinking about the ads they’ll see tomorrow.” They described online advertising as “a disruption to aesthetics, an insult to your intelligence, and the interruption of your train of thought.”
However there was a problem of the revenue model of Whatsapp as Facebook scrapped off the 99cent subscription model
Koum is the last of the Founders of Whatsapp to leave Facebook after Brian Acton left last year and invested $50 million in an app called Signal, the app allows the sending of encrypted messages. Brain was also part of the #DeleteFacebook campaign that recently came up.
For now, we don’t know who will head Whatsapp and we hope Facebook doesn’t kill the Whatsapp with it’s privacy “palava”
Also published on Medium.