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WhatsApp CEO, Co-Founder Jan Koum Is Leaving Facebook

April 30, 2018, 10:51 PM UTC
Mobile World Congress 2014 - Day 1
BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Whatsapp CEo Jan Koum during a Keynote conference as part of the first day of the Mobile World Congress 2013 at the Fira Gran Via complex on February 24, 2014 in Barcelona, Spain. The annual Mobile World Congress hosts some of the world's largest communication companies, with many unveiling their latest phones and gadgets. The show runs from February 24 - February 27. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photograph by David Ramos—Getty Images

WhatsApp founder and Chief Executive Officer Jan Koum is leaving Facebook Inc., just a few years after his messaging app was acquired by the social-media giant for $22 billion.

Koum posted his plan to depart on his Facebook page, saying the decision was emotional. His mobile-messaging tool, which has been kept separate from Facebook’s main social network, its Messenger app and other businesses, is known for offering end-to-end encryption, meaning only the sender and recipient can see the content of messages. The app has about 1.5 billion users worldwide. The news received a quick response from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

“I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people’s hands,” Zuckerberg wrote. “Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp.”

The Washington Post reported earlier that Koum is exiting the company after clashing with Facebook over strategy, and that he also plans to leave Facebook’s board. The other co-founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton, also left recently — and last month posted the #DeleteFacebook hashtag during the social network’s scandal over user privacy.

When asked who will replace Koum at the head of WhatsApp, or whether he plans to remain on Facebook’s board, the company said it had no comment. The company also declined to comment on whether Facebook plans to start advertising on WhatsApp — a business model the founders promised they would never use.