After Cambridge Analytica Scandal, Whatsapp Co-founder Jan Koum Quits Facebook
Jan Koum, Co-founder, Whatsapp (Photo: Flickr)

New York: A month after Whatsapp’s parent company Facebook was hit by the Cambridge Analytica data leak scandal, Jan Koum, the CEO of WhatsApp, is leaving the company and Facebook.

Koum confirmed on his Facebook page today that he's leaving, saying it is time for him to "move on." In a post on Facebook, he said he was "taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology".

Jan Koum co-founded WhatsApp with Brian Acton that Facebook bought for $19 billion in 2014, its largest-ever acquisition. Koum and Acton’s messaging app is known for protecting the privacy of its users using strong encryption.

The Washington Post, which earlier reported details of Koum's departure, said Koum would leave both WhatsApp and Facebook's board. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented that he will "miss working closely" with Koum. Facebook is reckoning with the worst privacy crisis in its history, not to mention questions over how it handles user data and, broadly speaking, whether it is good for the world.

Koum's post announcing his departure did not mention his concerns on the company’s privacy policy, and nor did he specifically address his roles in Facebook outside WhatsApp. But according to the Post, Koum was "worn down by the differences in approach," particularly around data targeting, encryption, ad-based revenue and mobile payments.

Facebook has been accused of being lax and allowing the transfer of its users’ information to companies who then target them with ads, along with revelations of Russian election manipulation in the U.S., fake news, data leaks and more. Koum has long been an advocate of privacy, writing in 2014 about his experience growing up in the USSR when he feared communications would be monitored by the KGB which drove him to create the privacy policy that Whatsapp has today.

After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, Whatsapp's other co-founder Brian Acton started the #deleteFacebook movement, hinting at what he thought of the social media company's privacy policy.

Facebook bought WhatsApp in 2014, and back then, Koum wrote that the deal wouldn't have happened if WhatsApp "had to compromise on the core principles that will always define our company, our vision and our product."

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted on Koum’s timeline, writing he was thankful for what Koum taught him about "about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in people's hands." "Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp," Zuckerberg wrote in a comment on Koum's Facebook post. But Zuckerberg has reportedly pushed WhatsApp to "move faster" to grow its business base, despite scrutiny from the UK government about its privacy policy as well European Commission surrounding the company.

Today, WhatsApp is the world’s most-used messaging app with over one billion monthly users, that’s more than double the 450 million it had at the date of the acquisition. (With Agency inputs)