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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

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

House cancels Thursday session as FBI, Homeland Security warn of threat to Capitol

Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

The FBI and Department of Homeland Security predict violent domestic extremists attacks will increase in 2021, according to a report obtained by Axios.

Driving the news: The joint report says extremists have discussed plans to take control of the Capitol and "remove Democratic lawmakers" on or about March 4. The House canceled its plans for Thursday votes as word of the possible threats spread.

3 hours ago - World

Pope Francis set to make first papal visit to Iraq amid possible turmoil

Data: Vatican News; Map: Danielle Alberti/Axios

Pope Francis is forging ahead with the first papal trip to Iraq despite new coronavirus outbreaks and fears of instability.

The big picture: The March 5–8 visit is intended to reassure Christians in Iraq who were violently persecuted under the Islamic State. Francis also hopes to further ties with Shiite Muslims, AP notes.

"Neanderthal thinking": Biden slams states lifting mask mandates

States that are relaxing coronavirus restrictions are making "a big mistake," President Biden told reporters on Wednesday, adding: "The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking."

Driving the news: Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said Wednesday he will end all coronavirus restrictions via executive order, although some businesses are continuing to ask patrons to wear face masks. Mississippi is lifting its mask mandate for all counties Wednesday, per Gov. Tate Reeves (R).