Head of WhatsApp to Leave Company

WhatsApp Co-Founder Leaving Facebook After Reported Clashes Over Security

The two men, both privacy advocates who started their encrypted messaging app almost a decade ago, joined Facebook after it acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion, making them both billionaires. Koum has always been an advocate of privacy, writing in 2014 about his experience growing up in the USSR when he feared communications would be monitored by the KGB which drove him to create the privacy policy that Whatsapp has today.

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

Jan Koum's plan to exit comes after clashing with the parent company over WhatApp's strategy and Facebook's attempts to use its personal data and weaken its encryption, the Washington Post earlier reported, citing people familiar with the internal discussions.

However, 18 months later, Facebook pushed WhatsApp to change its terms of service to give the social network access to the personal data of WhatsApp users.

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.

"It's been nearly a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it's been an wonderful journey with some of the best people", Mr. Koum said in his Facebook post.

In a reply to Mr Koum's Facebook post, Mr Zuckerberg credited him with teaching him "about encryption and its ability to take power from centralised systems and put it back in people's hands".

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Facebook has yet commented on the departure of Koum aside from this tweet. In a post on Facebook, he said he was "taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology".

He said he would still be cheering WhatsApp on from the outside.

As Dwoskin points out, Whatsapp's other co-founder, Brian Acton, has been far more vocal of his Facebook disapproval since leaving the company in November.

Privacy was WhatsApp's hallmark, and especially important to Mr. Koum, who grew up in Soviet-era Ukraine. But Zuckerberg has reportedly pushed WhatsApp to "move faster" to grow its business base, despite scrutiny from the United Kingdom government about its privacy policy as well European Commission surrounding the company.

Koum's concerns over Facebook's attitude towards privacy may have started in 2016, when an update to WhatsApp's privacy policy noted that the company planned to start sharing user data with Facebook.

-Kirsten Grind contributed to this article.

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