WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is breaking his association with the team to pursue a non-profit organisation "at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications." Acton and Ukrainian immigrant Jan Koum are co-founders of WhatsApp, the biggest messaging app in the world with over a billion users globally.
Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014 for $22 billion in a cash and stock deal that made Acton a billionaire. Thanks to the WhatsApp deal Acton's net worth is now $6.5 billion, according to Forbes.
A Stanford alumnus, prior to starting WhatsApp, in 2009, Acton worked at Yahoo. At the time when it was acquired by Facebook, Tencent reportedly was also in the race, but Mark Zuckerberg beat the Chinese company to the deal. After he joined the Facebook team, there have been several changes at WhatsApp, with introductions of features such as the revamped Status and video calling, among others.
Acton wrote in a Facebook post announcing his departure from WhatsApp, and explaining his reasons:
After 8 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 non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It's something I've thought about for a while, and now it's time to just focus and execute.
Acton's departure comes at a time when WhatsApp is preparing to make some money, according to commentators. The company is hiring for several key business positions, and Recode reports citing sources that WhatsApp is building multiple enterprise products that will help businesses message and interact with customers with the app. WhatsApp currently does not generate any revenue.