WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton has spoken out to discuss why he quit Facebook and reveal what he learned about Mark Zuckerberg whilst working with him. Facebook bought Whatsapp for $19 billion in 2014, but Acton and his new bosses reportedly clashed heads about the direction the messaging app should take. He revealed disagreements with Zuck and chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg over how to make money from the messaging service before he left the company in an interview with Forbes. The social network was allegedly interested in showing adverts to Whatsapp users, whilst the app’s founders wanted to introduce tough encryption which would stop the harvesting of users’ data. Eventually, the situation came to a head and Acton quit in November 2017.
‘At the end of the day, I sold my company,’ Acton said. ‘I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.’ Although Acton said Zuck ‘isn’t the bad guy’ and is one of a team of ‘good businesspeople’ who ‘represent a set of business practices, principles and ethics, and policies that I don’t necessarily agree with’, his description of a final meeting with the billionaire is brutally awkward. ‘He was like: This is probably the last time you’ll ever talk to me,’ Acton added. Despite working close to Zuck, the Whatsapp co-founder said he was inscrutable and added: ‘I couldn’t tell you much about the guy’.
Earlier this week, the founders of Instagram also quit Facebook to become the latest high-profile employees to step down from the helm of Zuck-owned companies.