The 46-year-old co-founder of world’s biggest instant messaging service WhatsApp has spoken about the struggles he faced while selling WhatsApp to Facebook in 2014. He denied $850 million kept for on the table back in 2017 when he left Facebook. Brian Acton built an ad-free, encrypted messaging platform with his partner Jan Koum that is currently used by over 1.5 billion people around the globe.
In 2014, Acton and Koum sold WhatsApp to the social media giant Facebook for a staggering amount of $22 billion. He left Facebook, saying a nonprofit work is going to be his next venture. Then in this March, he tweeted something surprising to his former co-workers at Facebook- “It is time. #deletefacebook.”
“It was like, okay, well, you want to do these things I don’t want to do,” Acton said to Forbes. “It’s better if I get out of your way. And I did,” Acton explained how it wasn’t his cup of tea anymore.
He came across media channels once again and this time, he wanted to clear things. And he started off saying that Facebook “isn’t the bad guy.”
“I think of them as just very good business people,” he further added. On asking why he didn’t speak before, he said, “As part of a proposed settlement at the end, [Facebook management] tried to put a nondisclosure agreement in place.” He further added, “That was part of the reason that I got sort of cold feet in terms of trying to settle with these guys.”
“At the end of the day, I sold my company,” Acton says. “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.”
In the interview, Acton told how Zuckerberg and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg planned to get money out of the free messaging app. The first way was business API, and the second was targeted ads. Business APIs were developed to connect companies to consumers directly. If you don’t know, this is already working. Try booking a plane ticket on Goibibo, or a movie ticket on BookMyShow, or even a room on an online portal for that matter. An e-ticket will be delivered right into your WhatsApp inbox. The second way is still to be tested and implemented, but the day is not far when there will be ad revenue from WhatsApp.
Reports are there that the WhatsApp status, which was a rip off of Instagram Stories (which was originally a Snapchat rip), is actually there to somehow monetize the app through ads.
Both WhatsApp co-founders Acton and Koum left the company because they opposed the idea. According to Acton, he and Koum even did whatever they could to stop the monetization till 2016. Acton believes that a no matter how wide and big Facebook turns, Mark Zuckerberg can never turn WhatsApp into another advertisement platform. According to him, user backlash will either force Facebook to reissue an ad-free subscription for free or will end WhatsApp. Acton, who earned billions with the WhatsApp deal, is currently working on philanthropic arms to enhance healthcare in different areas of the United States reduced to poverty.