WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton has announced his departure from the popular messaging service. Acton, who started at Facebook in 2014 when WhatsApp was acquired for $19 billion, may be less well known than fellow co-founder and WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum, however he has been pivotal to its success. In particular, Acton has been given much credit for his role in implementing WhatsApp’s end-to-end encryption which now features on all messaging conversations.
After working at Yahoo, Acton was ironically rejected by Facebook in 2009 when he went for an interview. He then went on to set up WhatsApp with Koum and spent most of his time leading an internal team of engineers. His role won’t be filled by any one employee, according to a company spokesperson.
So what next for Acton? Although he did not explicitly say, Acton implied that he will be staying in the communications business and appears to have plans in motion for his next step already. Announcing his departure on his Facebook page, Acton said: “I am very fortunate at my age to have the flexibility to take new risks and focus on what I'm passionate about.
“I've decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It's something I've thought about for a while, and now it's time to just focus and execute. I'll have more to share in the coming months.”
It’s not entirely clear what Acton will focus on with his new endeavour, but he certainly has money to throw around. Forbes estimates Acton’s net worth at $6.5 billion. His departure will come as a surprise to many, with a number of new enterprise products set to be rolled out by WhatsApp in the coming months. The company currently doesn’t generate any money, however that is about to change. It is reported that WhatsApp is in the final stages of preparing a number of products that will help businesses interact with customers. Earlier this month, WhatsApp announced that it is to create verified business accounts, making official – and monetised – a practice that has long been employed by all manner of businesses.