WhatsApp co-founder bites the hand that fed him billions of dollars

WhatsApp co-founder bites the hand that fed him billions of dollars
How's this for gratitude. Back in October 2014, Facebook closed on its purchase of WhatsApp, paying $21 billion for the messaging app. The transaction made WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton a wealthy man, as you might imagine. You might think that Acton, whose bank account is swollen with Facebook's money, would blindly praise Facebook and turn a blind eye to its bad deeds. But you'd be dead wrong.

According to BuzzFeed, Acton was speaking to students last Wednesday at Stanford University, his alma mater. He was one of the guest speakers for an undergraduate class called Computer Science 181, which teaches students about the social and ethical responsibilities that tech companies have. After discussing how he founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum after they both left Yahoo, he explained why he sold WhatsApp to Facebook. Acton felt responsible for the 50 WhatsApp employees that would get rich from the sale. He also had to think about the investors, and realized that with his minority stake in the company, he couldn't block the deal even if he wanted to. Both co-founders hoped that they could charge users a small fee, like it used to, to ward off Facebook's monetization plans, which involved selling ads. But Facebook ended up selling ads on the app, hastening the departure of Acton and Koum.

During his visit to Stanford, Acton gave the students a recommendation. "Delete Facebook," he said. This wasn't the first time he made this comment. About a year ago, after word first came out about the 87 million Facebook members whose profiles were used by Cambridge Analytica without their consent, Acton disseminated a simple tweet. "It is time," he wrote, followed by the hashtag #deleteFacebook.

Facebook, rightly or wrongly, has become the poster child for everything that has gone wrong with social media apps these days from selling user data to third parties, to accepting ads designed to manipulate the U.S. electorate. And while Acton is no doubt happy not to be a part of all of this, it still is unusual to spit in the face of a company that put billions of dollars in your bank account.

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15 Comments

1. sleeppuppy

Posts: 13; Member since: Oct 15, 2014

That's it?

2. slashas

Posts: 133; Member since: Jul 17, 2017

I would do the same if I’ve had this amount of money in the account, company is sold and you do not carry any responsibility what other company is doing with your invented product afterwards and you are free to speak and think as you wish :)

3. dimas

Posts: 3363; Member since: Jul 22, 2014

I agree. It's a business deal, not a parent to son relationship. Respect to Acton for not acting like a walking campaign puppet for facebook.

13. Finalflash

Posts: 4063; Member since: Jul 23, 2013

It is a look into the mind of the author though. Where they think that they owe blind loyalty to those that pay their bills. Because having ethics is optional when contrasted with having money.

4. worldpeace

Posts: 3133; Member since: Apr 15, 2016

Yeah right.. Delete facebook, and move to Instagram+Whatsapp /s

5. maherk

Posts: 6876; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

It's not like they gave him the money and got nothing in return, they want to control all major social media platforms, and WhatsApp had a price tag that they paid for. He has every right to criticize them, so I don't see the point the writer is trying to make.

6. phoneclash

Posts: 40; Member since: Dec 18, 2018

Just cause they paid him for what’s app, doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the right to feel that things are going in the wrong direction since the transaction was made. A sale doesn’t mean lifetime of loyalty, and nor should it. That’s his opinion and it just so happens that others feel the same way as well. Me personally I been on Facebook exile since 2017, and l don’t miss it.

7. jhart1596

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 16, 2019

Change that heading. You cannot say someone is biting the hand that fed him when the hand didn't actually feed him. He worked his ass off for God-Knows how long, stayed up countless nights with his partner building WhatsApp into what it is. He sold a successful business. You cannot call the buyer of that business "the hand that fed him". That's an insult to hardworking people.

12. sixline

Posts: 17; Member since: May 25, 2015

Well said

8. Vogue1985

Posts: 459; Member since: Jan 24, 2017

Theres obviously something even greater than he knows and this is just a friendly caution. I DON'T use Facebook anymore it's been a good two years. And I don't regret it, gave folks me phone, really wanna chat dm me or let's video chat, yeah it old fashioned, but I good because I know how with me and who not

9. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

It was a business transaction, he don't owe them jack.

10. gazmatic

Posts: 808; Member since: Sep 06, 2012

This article is negative for no reason. Facebook is garbage

11. Ichimoku

Posts: 170; Member since: Nov 18, 2018

Clean from Facebook and all of the social media own by Facebook Inc.

14. Secure

Posts: 2; Member since: Mar 18, 2019

Take a money from someone and to be sold is not the same. How stupid one must be to not understand such a simple logic. The author seems to be a child and not the smartest one.

15. Lloupez

Posts: 1; Member since: Mar 19, 2019

More people should speak out against sociopathic capitalist practices regardless if they've been rewarded by them or not. Acton is under no obligation to be loyal to Facebook simply because they bought WhatsApp. If I sell a car to someone who gives me 5 times it's value and I become debt free as a result, that doesn't obligate me to turn a blind eye to crooked things that person does. This isn't a car however, it's a platform used by too many people already and WhatsApp cannot be trusted under Facebook and its sociopathic, narcissist leader, Zuckerburg. It's time to delete WhatsApp and Facebook. Brian Acton is one of the few heroes of humanity out there, using his voice and its influence for the betterment of mankind. Good for you. Criticizing heroes like Acton for striking at the corrupt power brokers out there doesn't make you look good. Defend the people not the power brokers because if you're too cozy with them then we'll delete you.

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