Jun 5, 2018

Privacy concerns caused WhatsApp founders to leave Facebook

Photo: Christophe Morin/IP3/Getty Images

The departures of Brian Acton and Jan Koum, the creators of WhatsApp, from Facebook followed disagreements over how to squeeze more revenue out of the messaging platform using user data — costing them about $1.3 billion, the WSJ's Kirsten Grind and Deepa Seetharaman scoop.

Why it matters: The disagreement stems from WhatsApp's hesitance to monetize using targeted ads — Acton and Koum have notably advocated for user privacy — as Facebook attempts to leverage the service's vast user base to justify its $22 billion acquisition in 2014.

  • At the time of the acquisition, Zuckerberg said he and Koum agreed advertising wasn’t the right way to leverage revenue out of WhatsApp.
  • Facebook stopped increasing the number of ads in its News Feed in 2016, which added pressure to make more money via WhatsApp, especially as other acquisitions like Oculus VR, LiveRail, and Parse, failed to rake in cash, per the WSJ

Their departure was “very passive aggressive,” one person familiar with the relationship told the WSJ. However, others claimed Acton and Koum left Facebook because they believed they couldn’t win the disagreement but still wanted to maintain their relationship with Zuckerberg

  • Acton, who left Facebook last September, tweeted that he would be deleting his Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal, reportedly surprising colleagues at Facebook who thought he had left amicably.
  • Other disagreements between WhatsApp and Facebook employees included the fact that WhatsApp’s bathroom doors that extended to the floor and WhatsApp employees' large desk size.

Go deeper

Amid racial unrest, a test at the polls

Photo: Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Eight states plus D.C. are holding primary elections today following a week of intense protests across the country over the brutal police killing of George Floyd.

Why it matters: It's the first major test for voting since the national outcry. Concerns over civil unrest and the police — as well as the coronavirus and expanded absentee voting — could reduce the number of voters showing up in person but heighten tensions for those who do.

Axios-Ipsos poll: America’s big racial divide on police, virus

Data: Ipsos/Axios survey; Note: ±3.2% margin of error; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

A new Axios-Ipsos poll finds that America has a massive racial gulf on each of our twin calamities — trust in police, and fear of the coronavirus.

  • 77% of whites say they trust local police, compared with just 36% of African Americans — one of many measures of a throbbing racial divide in Week 11 of the Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, taken the week George Floyd was killed by a white policeman in Minneapolis.
Updated 48 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Updates: George Floyd protests nationwide

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued for a seventh day across the U.S., with President Trump threatening on Monday to deploy the military if the unrest continues.

The latest: Four police officers were struck by gunfire while standing near a line in St Louis on Monday after a peaceful demonstration, Police Chief John Hayden said early Tuesday. They were all taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries. He said a small group of people had thrown rocks and fireworks at police officers.