WhatsApp: Jan Kuom (Co-Founder, CEO)
WhatsApp changed its Facebook status, about Facebook. Jan Koum announced that he will “still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside.” Koum, the co-founder and CEO of the largest servicing app in the galaxy, stepped down 4 years after selling the app to Facebook (for $19B), and one month after his fellow co-founder, Brian Acton, tweeted “It is time. #deletefacebook.”
Koum’s exit is a result of a culture clash. Both he and Acton openly criticized the targeted advertising model (coming in 2019). They once described online advertising as “a disruption to aesthetics, an insult to your intelligence, and the interruption of your train of thought.” Elsewhere, Facebook was taking over the world, on its way to being an advertising ATM printing billions by selling advertisers access to its well-defined user demographics. So Facebook leadership pushed WhatsApp to change its terms of service last year to give Facebook access to all 1.5 global Billion of WhatsApp users’ phone numbers, along with analytics, what devices and operating systems people use, and which Spice Girl they preferred. The changes also allowed advertisers to feed lists of phone numbers into Facebook’s advertising system, and find new people to target with ads.
As the largest acquisition Facebook ever made, the parent company needed to monetize and digest WhatsApp into their advertising apparatus. Will it be worth the cost? A few months after Koum’s exit, another top executive, Neeraj Arora, Chief Business Officer at WhatsApp, announced his plans to depart. When Big Quits happen, they often take people with them. Who will be next?