WhatsApp founder quits amid rumours of a falling-out with Facebook over security

Audrey Hill
May 1, 2018

When asked who will replace Mr Koum at the head of WhatsApp, or whether he plans to remain on Facebook's board, the company said it had no comment. But Zuckerberg has also pushed WhatsApp to "move faster" to grow its business base, despite scrutiny from the European Commission surrounding the company.

Koum's post announcing his departure did not mention his concerns on the company's privacy policy, and nor did he specifically address his roles in Facebook outside WhatsApp. Facebook wouldn't comment on that report.

Shortly after the report from The Washington Post, Koum confirmed his departure on Facebook, writing that his newfound free time will allow him to spend time doing other things, such as "collecting rare air-cooled Porsches".

In March, The New York Times reported that Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief information security officer, meant to leave the company after an internal dispute over how to handle the threat of Russian influence efforts.

Due to end-to-end encryption, information sent through WhatsApp can only be seen by the sender and its recipient.

WhatsApp also runs no ads.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg replied to Koum's post and said he respected his decision.

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WhatsApp, a pun on the phrase "What's up?", grew in popularity in part because its messages are stored on users' smartphones and not on the company's servers, making the service more private and hard to hack.

Facebook's handling of user data has been at the heart of a scandal in recent months after it became widely publicized that political consultancy firm Cambridge Analytica was able to access the personal data of millions of Americans without their express permission.

Jan Koum made the announcement on his personal Facebook.

"I will miss working so closely with you", Zuckerberg wrote.

Facebook bought WhatsApp for $19 billion in 2014, though without ever devising a clear strategy for how that service would make money. The popular service was developed in 2009 by Koum and Brian Acton, who left Facebook previous year and has recently criticized WhatsApp's owner as a reckless abuser of user data.

Messrs. Koum and Acton had clauses in their contracts with Facebook that allowed an acceleration of their contracts if Facebook added advertising to the app. Mr. Koum's contract with Facebook wasn't supposed to end until November, the person familiar with the matter said.

Commercialising WhatsApp has always been a hot topic, with the messaging service dropping its annual $1 subscription fee in 2016.

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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