When Facebook paid $19bn for WhatsApp in 2014, it seemed like an astonishing price for a messaging app that had very little revenue. Four years later, it now has more than a billion users, but still barely makes a cent.
Much of that might be down to Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s founder and, until yesterday, its boss, who has always sought to keep the app independent. Koum announced last night that he was leaving Facebook to collect rare Porsches and play ultimate frisbee.
It has to be one of the better Silicon Valley leaving notes; the question now is what happens to WhatsApp
Koum did not elaborate on why he was leaving WhatsApp, but the Washington Post reports that his departure is down to clashes with Facebook management over the parent company's apparent attempts to use personal data and weaken encryption.
WhatsApp’s founder, who grew up in Communist Ukraine, has always been a staunch privacy supporter and occasionally a critic of advertising-supported social media, and it seems possible that his philosophy differed from Mark Zuckerberg’s.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR WHATSAPP?
Since buying WhatsApp, Facebook has struggled with the question how to make money from it. An initiative to have businesses pay to communicate through the service has often been mulled, but so far struggled to take off.
Meanwhile the app’s encryption has often been criticised by politicians and police, who say it makes it more difficult to catch criminals. Interestingly, Koum’s departure comes as Russia and Iran both crack down on encrypted app Telegram.
As Facebook itself faces growing political scrutiny, could the company be tempted to weaken WhatsApp’s encryption as a potential bargaining chip
Source : Telegraph.