WhatsApp Founder Got Rejected by Both Twitter and Facebook Before $19 Billion Buyout

Facebook made an expensive decision by not hiring Brian Acton.

March 24, 2016

Brian Acton was the college dropout turned software engineer that no one wanted to hire. After working as the Vice President of Engineering at Yahoo!, Acton applied to work at Twitter but got rejected in May 2009. Here’s his sad but optimistic tweet.

Acton applied to Facebook a few months later and also got turned down.

After these harsh rejections, Acton decided to build a startup with his Yahoo! colleague Jan Koum, working for no salary. After about four years their company WhatsApp sold for a jaw-dropping $19 billion to Facebook.

This acquisition stunned tons of Americans who barely used this simple messaging app. But at the time, WhatsApp had 600 million monthly active users and generated an estimated $20 million in annual revenue. Facebook saw it as an opportunity to monetize the global audience and Acton came out on top.

A note from The Hustle: Every morning at 9am Pacific, we send an email with the top news stories in business and tech. It's kind of like if your friend read the internet all day then told you the important stuff in a fun, easy to understand way. Join the club and impress your coworkers with how smart you are.

Tam PhamTam Pham // The Hustle
Welcome to The Hustle. We send a daily email that makes you smart with all the news you need to know. Sound good? Gravy. Learn more →