WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton leaves company for pastures new

13 Sep 2017

Image: Alejandro Ruhl/Shutterstock

Brian Acton announces his departure from WhatsApp after eight years.

Messaging behemoth WhatsApp will see one of its co-founders, Brian Acton, depart the company, with no one individual taking over his specific role. He co-founded the platform with CEO Jan Koum in 2009, after they met working at Yahoo.

‘I’ve decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications’

The announcement was made by Acton on his Facebook page today (13 September), where he also detailed what his next steps would be: “After eight years at WhatsApp, I have decided to move on and start a new chapter in my life.

“I am very fortunate at my age to have the flexibility to take new risks and focus on what I’m passionate about. I’ve decided to start a nonprofit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications.”

He added that he would have more information on his new project in the near future. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, and now it’s time to just focus and execute. I’ll have more to share in the coming months.”

Not an easy decision

Acton emphasised that the decision to leave the WhatsApp fold was not one he took lightly. “I’m proud of what our team has accomplished in only a few years, and it’s humbling to see that so many people rely on WhatsApp every day.”

According to TechCrunch, WhatsApp is now the world’s most-used messaging app, with more than 1bn active monthly users. Its owner, Facebook, has recently made moves to monetise the company, with a potential charge on the cards for large enterprises. Having spent $19bn in cash and stock on acquiring WhatsApp, it makes sense that Mark Zuckerberg and his team would want to make returns on their investment.

Recode reported that Acton led internal engineering for WhatsApp, and was an advocate for the platform’s recent move towards encryption. His net worth is at $6.5bn, according to Forbes, so he will have plenty of capital to put behind his as-yet-unspecified nonprofit venture.

WhatsApp. Image: Alejandro Ruhl/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects