10 things you need to know about Whatsapp’s founders
So, Facebook has opened the giant gates to its social coffers again – this time forking out $19bn for Whatsapp – making it its most expensive shopping trip ever. It makes Facebook’s offer of $3bn for Snapchat in November last year look like small change.
Zuckerberg and his desire to control all inter-friend communication aside, the founders of five-year old Whatsapp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, have just become billionaires.
1. Ironically Brian Acton and Jan Koum were both turned down for jobs at Facebook.
Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life's next adventure.
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) August 3, 2009
Acton was also rejected from Twitter.
Got denied by Twitter HQ. That's ok. Would have been a long commute.
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) May 23, 2009
2. Jan Koum is an emigre from communist Ukraine – he moved to the US at 16, living in Mountain View (where Whatsapp’s office is based). Moving from a country where communications were routinely monitored more than likely affected his choice to democratise messaging.
3. “No Ads! No Games! No Gimmicks!” reads a note stuck up in Whatsapp’s office and signed by founder Brian Acton. (They might have to take that down now…)
4. As of December 2013, Whatsapp only employed 50 people – a pretty small operation for a $19bn company.
5. Going on Facebook’s valuation, Whatsapp is worth more than: American Airlines, Hertz, Marriott International, Ralph Lauren, Harley-Davidson and Ryanair (we could keep going but….)
6. Brian Acton was employee number 44 at Yahoo!
7. Acton interviewed Koum for his job at Yahoo! in systems security. They both left on the same day in 2007.
8. Koum incorporated Whatsapp on his birthday, February 24, 2009. Acton joined Whatsapp as co-founder in November of that year.
9. The two founders love playing ultimate frisbee.
10. The Whatsapp office doesn’t have a sign outside because Koum considers it an ego boost and little more.