The chief executive officer of WhatsApp, Jan Koum, announced on Monday that he would be leaving the company. The exit plan was prompted by privacy disagreements between WhatsApp and its parent company, Facebook. Read on.
According to reliable reports, Facebook plans to change the popular messaging App’s strategy, weaken its end-to-end encryption and make use of user data. These attempts are rumoured to be the reason why Koum plans to leave the company. Prior to selling WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 billion in 2014, Koum and his co-founder, Brian Acton, vowed to preserve the independence and protection of its user’s data. Koum wrote that the agreement wouldn’t have happened if the messaging service “had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product”. In 2016, WhatsApp doubled down on its pledge by adding encryption. However, it seems Facebook has an entirely distinct philosophy.
In March this year, a ‘Cambridge Analytica’ scandal surfaced showing how Facebook had allowed third parties to mishandle personal information of users. During that trend, Acton posted “it’s time. #deletefacebook” – which sounds quite mysterious considering that it was reported that he only exited the company “to start a foundation” in September 2017.
“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,” said Koum on a Facebook post. “But it is time for me to move on,” he added.
The duo started off as colleagues at Yahoo. They have been with WhatsApp for eight years.
Facebook had made attempts to generate revenue from the mobile messaging App, although it lacks advertising (which we hope never has). One of the attempts was charging a $1 annual subscription fee which it later dropped in 2016 in a plan to charge businesses for specialised accounts. Unfortunately the WhatsApp for Business program can only be possible with a weak encryption.
Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook, has since commented on Koum’s post and credited him for teaching him 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.”
Koum did not announce his date of departure. The billionaire will also be stepping down from Facebook’s board of directors to focus on other pursuits including “collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on [his] cars and playing ultimate Frisbee.”