Published: Tue, May 01, 2018
Sci-tech | By Eric Barnett

WhatsApp founder to depart after spat with Facebook over security

WhatsApp founder to depart after spat with Facebook over security

Koum said in a post on his Facebook page that he is taking time off to pursue interests such as collecting air-cooled Porsches, working on cars and playing ultimate Frisbee. "And I'll still be cheering WhatsApp on - just from the outside".

He did so after the Washington Post's Elizabeth Dwoskin reported that he was "worn down" by debates with Facebook on matters such as WhatsApp's advertising-adverse business strategy, its embrace of end-to-end encryption, and the question of how much WhatsApp and Facebook user data should be intermingled.

Koum announced his departure on Monday; he said it was time for him to move on, and made no mention of any tension with Facebook.

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Whatsapp's other co-founder Brian Acton started the #deleteFacebook movement, hinting at what he thought of the social media company's privacy policy.

European regulators want to stop or limit Facebook's plans to use WhatsApp user data, including phone numbers, to develop products and target ads. The publication said Koum had clashed with Facebook over its approach to personal data and encryption. "Thanks to everyone who has made this journey possible", he added. "Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp", wrote Zuckerberg, in part.

Despite Koum's chummy tone, sources speaking to WaPo claim he's leaving the company due to "clashing" with Facebook.

The Facebook founder said he would miss working closely with Mr Koum. Facebook acquired his popular messaging app for $16 billion in 2014.

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According to Koum's announcement, "It's been nearly a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an incredible journey with some of the best people".

Acton and Koum founded WhatsApp in 2009, which was purchased by Facebook for US$19 billion [in cash and stock] in 2014.

He did not provide a departure date and did not confirm whether he would be joining Mr Acton who left WhatsApp in September to start a foundation. In a January 2018 earnings call, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed WhatsApp had amassed 1.5 billion users and saw 60 billion messages sent per day.

Koum also plans to step down from Facebook's board.

Mr. Koum's departure followed an internal debate over whether to put advertising in WhatsApp, a move that Mr. Koum opposed, as did Mr. Acton, according to a person familiar with the matter.

WhatsApp, a pun on the phrase "What's up?", only stores messages on users' smartphones and not on the company's servers, making the service more private and hard to hack. Zuckerberg wished Koum well on Facebook.

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