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Awe-Inspiring Tale of WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum and Co-founder Brian Acton
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Awe-Inspiring Tale of WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum and Co-founder Brian Acton

Many eyebrows were raised last month after Facebook purchased WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion. As Mark Zucker...

Awe-Inspiring Tale of WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum and Co-founder Brian Acton

Many eyebrows were raised last month after Facebook purchased WhatsApp for a staggering $19 billion. As Mark Zuckerberg so elegantly stated, “No one in the history of the world has ever done something like this.” Since then, all eyes have fallen on the masterminds of the sensational WhatsApp mobile messaging service, Jan Koum and Brian Acton.

 

“Simple. Personal. Real Time Messaging.”

 

This is the message that greets users when downloading the app. And, it is a direct reflection of Koum and Acton’s shared ideology and vision. Having worked together at Yahoo! for 20 years combined, Koum serving as VP-Engineering and Acton, as employee No. 44, both grew weary of the ad-oriented consumerist world. In Koum’s words,

“When we sat down to start our own thing together three years ago we wanted to make something that wasn't just another ad clearinghouse. We wanted to spend our time building a service people wanted to use because it worked and saved them money and made their lives better in a small way. We knew that we could charge people directly if we could do all those things. We knew we could do what most people aim to do every day: avoid ads.”

 

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Both men have a modest background and, prior to the big budget deal, kept a very low profile. Koum was brought up in the Ukraine, and has tirelessly worked his way up to the top, remaining true to his ideals all the way through. Acton’s similar dedication to hard work and ideology has paid off for him too.

 

When they set out on their venture together, creating WhatsApp in 2009, they promised to create a product that was personal, ad-free, and satisfied the needs of its users. As Koum states,

“At WhatsApp, our engineers spend all their time fixing bugs, adding new features and ironing out all the little intricacies in our task of bringing rich, affordable, reliable messaging to every phone in the world. That's our product and that's our passion.

 

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The perseverance and dedication towards a common goal is the key ingredient which made WhatsApp so alluring to Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. This—and the 450 million active members. As Zuckerberg states, “I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected. I’m particularly happy that Jan has agreed to join the Facebook board and partner with me to shape Facebook’s future as well as WhatsApp’s.”

 

The “yin and yang” dream-team had this to say for themselves: “We’re the most atypical Silicon Valley company you'll come across. We were founded by thirtysomethings; we focused on business sustainability and revenue rather than getting big fast; we’ve been incognito almost all the time; we’re mobile first; and we’re global first."

 

The deal brought them $4 billion in cash, $12 billion in stock and the rest of the $3 billion in restricted stock for employee retention. Not a bad deal indeed!

 

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