WhatsApp co-founder & CEO Jan Koum quits Facebook over disagreements with the company which acquired the free messaging app a few years ago. WhatsApp was designed with a disdain for ads and a focus on privacy, but the parent company is now pressured to start making money from its services, The Guardian reports.
Jan Koum who co-founded the Facebook-owned messaging app 9 years ago is having disagreements with Facebook over privacy and encryption. The Guardian reports that Koum will also step down from Facebook’s board of directors, a position which is part of his agreement when Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for approximately $19 billion.
“It’s been almost a decade since Brian [Acton] 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,” Koum wrote on his Facebook wall.
“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.”
WhatsApp was developed with a disdain for ads and a focus on user privacy by Jan Koum and Brian Action, former employees at Yahoo. And Facebook promised the platform users that these values will be maintained when he purchased the company.
“You can still count on absolutely no ads interrupting your communication. There would have been no partnership between our two companies if we had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product,” Facebook said at the time.
But Facebook is changing its mind and now working to make money from the free, encrypted messaging app, which records about 1.5 billion users monthly. These steps which Facebook has been taking are simply taking away the values of WhatsApp.
One of the unpopular moves by Facebook happened in 2016 when WhatsApp announced its intention of sharing some user data with its parent company. Facebook was fined European regulators after ordering a stop to such arrangement.
WhatsApp resorted to developing free tools for businesses which can be used to reach customers through the messaging app. The company intended charging business later when the tools become fully functional.
Washington Post reports that “people familiar with internal discussions” over Koum’s departure said there were disagreements with Facebook over end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp, a structure that deters anyone outside a conversation, including WhatsApp and Facebook from intercepting or reading the message. WhatsApp executives argued that any tweak in the encryption as desired by Facebook for businesses would require making the system weaker.
Facebook’s privacy practice has been regarded by many as inappropriate since the popular data infringement involving Cambridge Analytica, with momentum pilling on #deletefacebook movement which also involved Brian Action that left the company earlier.
WhatsApp spokeswoman declined to comment on the tension but referred every enquiry to Zuckerberg and Koum’s Facebook post.