WhatsApp’s co-founders reportedly threw $1.3B away when they deleted their Facebooks

WhatsApp co-founders give new meaning to the word integrity as they collectively gave up $1.3B to get out of their deal with Facebook


June 7, 2018

Back in May, when news broke that WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum decided to step down as CEO of WhatsApp only 4 years after his company was acquired by Facebook, things seemed… amicable?

But, according to a new report by The Wall Street Journal, the relationship between Facebook and their biggest acquisition ever was anything but.

In fact, it was so bad, that Koum and his co-founder Brian Acton (who left months prior) collectively left $1.3B on the table to get out from under the scorned social media giant’s talons.

More childish than a Facebook troll

According to the WSJ report, WhatsApp’s founders had a contentious relationship with Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg since the messaging app was acquired for $22B in 2014.

Both staunch opponents of digital advertising (AKA, Facebook’s lifeblood), Koum and Acton adamately fended off the pressure to advertise on their platform. 

As the tension between the two mounted, it spilled over into everything from their office setup to the comfortableness of their desk chairs.

To some, it really isn’t about the money

Both Acton and Koum wrote a so-called eject button into their contracts, which was smart, but both of them missed getting to pull it, as the escape-hatch hinged on the two staying at the company through November, which neither could bring themselves to do.

Acton left in September 2017, effectively forfeiting $900m in unvested stock awards, and Koum, expected to officially leave in mid-August, lost the other $400m.

$1.3B to delay your corporate mic-drop a couple months? Ain’t that some integrity.

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