The CEO of WhatsApp Jan Koum is resigning from Facebook following privacy issues between WhatsApp and its mother company Facebook, according to New York Times report.

In as much as the news appear a surprise to many, others are of the view that it is long overdue considering the fact that co-founder Brian Acton left Facebook September last year over same scandal. Besides the core principles of WhatsApp as against Facebook is reason to think it’s founder may at a point want to break away from the mother company having analysed how difficult it will be protecting WhatsApp’s core principles under Facebook’s control.

Even though it is unclear what specifically triggered Jan’s decision to break ties with Facebook, he was quite emphatic about it in his Facebook post on Monday 30th April  that “I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee”.

He further stated “I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside, thanks to everyone who has made this Journey possible”

Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook expressed what Jan’s decision meant to him, and Facebook – “Jan: I will miss working so closely with you, 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 centralised systems and put it back in people’s hands. Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp”.

When the news of Facebook buying WhatsApp first broke, many expressed displeasure and they may not be far from right. There were a number of questions, mind boggling among them was why Jan Koum CEO of WhatsApp would for any reason in the world sell an App like WhatsApp to another company it has right standing as a competitor.

Then came the relief, Jan Koum was not entirely selling off WhatsApp, only that Facebook becomes the mother company. Is it possible he had considered all the consequences? Quoting Mark in a speech he delivered at Harvard University some month’s back, ’Ideas don’t come out fully formed’. And this truth is not far from decisions. The decisions you take as an entrepreneur won’t always have the clearest of pictures.

But it is worth mentioning that for every entrepreneur, aside seeing their dreams materialise, Customer satisfaction and security is paramount not disputing the fact that profit making at the end of the day is a motivating factor.

The red flags were clear from the beginning, even though at the time of this acquisition, WhatsApp CEO according to the New York Times’ report wrote in a blog post, the deal wouldn’t have happened if WhatsApp “had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and products”.

Few years down the line after WhatsApp’s co-founder and former CEO Brian Acton left Facebook, Jan Koum who took over from his co-founder Brian, as CEO of WhatsApp is resigning from Facebook’s board of directors, a company that made him and his co-founder billionaires when they bought Facebook for $16 billion in 2014.

 

The bone of contention

  • The need to satisfy Facebook’s interest in money making through running advertisements as against WhatsApp’s core principles not to run ads as a company
  • Facebook’s desire to have access to personal information of users as against WhatsApp’s dedication and again core principles to protect user’s privacy.

 

Questions

  • Did Facebook consider making profit at the time of this acquisition? If they did, why will they continue with such a deal, bearing in mind they cannot run adverts which is almost their major means of making profit or recouping money invested?
  • What does Jan leaving Facebook mean to the company?
  • Is it likely Jan Koum and Brian Acton never foresaw this day being entrepreneurs and business men for that matter
  • Does pulling out become ideal in any joint venture especially when the venture in this case is the brainchild of the one pulling out

Mark was quite emphatic about what Jan’s decision meant to the company in his comment to the Latter’s Facebook post. In the first place the company did not only lose a human resource but also an investment. A human resource in the sense that Koum has his own uniqueness in app developing such as encryption as clearly stated by Mark Zuckerberg in his comment. Meanwhile it is only prudent to reason that at the time of the acquisition Mark and his board did not only have interest in the App but also the developer, a reason for which they could let go $16 billion and still have Jan Koum and Brian Acton as board members

In as much as it is unclear what is fuelling Jan’s decision, one could easily deduce, right from the word go, WhatsApp stated its core principles not to run ads and to protect user’s privacy. Facebook on the other hand cannot do without running ads since it is almost their major means of making profits and recouping money invested. Their desire to have access to user’s personal data is still a debate for another day.

It is worth mentioning that crisis in any business venture is inevitable and for that matter the need to factor in necessary measures to solve it right from the scratch. It is equally prudent to bear in mind that not only entrepreneurs or business owners suffer during crisis but customers alike.

An entrepreneur should never compromise on the core principles of their business and for this one may applaud Jan Koum but at the same time express disappointment at his recent action. Let us not be oblivious of the fact that an entrepreneur of a kind as Jan saw this coming at the Genesis of this deal; except that money became a reason to compromise, only to pull out when it is evident he cannot resist Facebook’s “control” pressure anymore.

Jan Koum’s decision to pull out of Facebook does not solve the problem of Facebook’s interest in personal information of users neither does it solve the desire to place ads at some point, though it saves his image as an individual. This is not just another news in history but also a wake up call to every entrepreneur and “Techpreneur” in this technological age of App developing, never to compromise at any point in time and must have the ability to forecast and make provision for crisis of this kind.

Want to share?