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WhatsApp co-founder hits out at Facebook yet again; urges students to delete app


WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton does not share a good relationship with Facebook, the firm he sold WhatsApp to for $19 billion in 2014 and he has been quite vocal about it in the past.

Acton asked people to delete Facebook after the Cambridge Analytica Scandal back in 2018 and has now again asked students to join him and delete Facebook from their phones. As per a report by Business Insider, Acton who was invited as a guest speaker at his alma mater, Stanford, criticised Facebook for making money by trading user privacy for revenue.

Brian Acton, co-founder of WhatsApp. Image: Reuters

“We give them the power. That’s the bad part. We buy their products. We sign up for these websites. Delete Facebook, right?” Acton said.

Both Acton and fellow WhatsApp co-founder, Jan Koum, had hoped they could create another way to monetise their app. Originally, WhatsApp would charge users $1 a year that would support a model of privacy and security. They thought, with enough users, it would be profitable.

“It (WhatsApp) was not extraordinarily money-making, and if you have a billion users … you’re going to have $1 billion in revenue per year,” Acton said. “That’s not what Google and Facebook want. They want multibillions of dollars.”

The WhatsApp co-founder who eventually walked away from Facebook with $850 million in stock grants said that the decision to sell WhatsApp wasn’t really up to him.

“You go back to this Silicon Valley culture and people say, ‘Well, could you have not sold?’ and the answer is no,” he said, as quoted by Buzzfeed, adding that it was a “rational choice” to take “a boatload of money.”

“I had 50 employees, and I had to think about them and the money they would make from this sale. I had to think about our investors and I had to think about my minority stake. I didn’t have the full clout to say no if I wanted to,” he said.

The WhatsApp co-founder earlier stated in a report that he was under pressure from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg to monetise WhatsApp. As a result, Facebook wanted to weaken the encryption to lay the groundwork to show targetted ads to help with commercial messaging on WhatsApp. Acton’s decision to leave Facebook, when he did, also made him give up $850 mn in stock value.

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