In an exclusive interview that gave to Forbes, WhatsApp’s Cofounder, Brian Acton, had the chance -among others- to give the inside story of his viral Tweet that went published in March, which had a huge impact on his former employers at Facebook,
who were shocked to see a “#deletefacebook” hashtag on their partner’s account.

Acton had just turned his back on the people who had made him a billionaire many times over. No explanation followed.
Actually, Acton hasn’t sent another Tweet since then. Now he’s talking publicly for the first time.

WhatsApp

But, let’s take it from the beginning. Acton and his WhatsApp co-founder, Jan Koum, started the company after leaving Yahoo, and it has since become one of the most popular mobile messaging apps in the world. In 2014, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $22 billion — and Acton himself received about $3 billion from the sale. It was one of the most stunning acquisitions of the century! Ten months ago, Acton left Facebook, saying he wanted to focus on a nonprofit organization. Then in March, as details of the Cambridge Analytica scandal oozed out, he sent the Τweet
that quickly went viral: “It is time. #deletefacebook.”

Under pressure from Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg to monetize WhatsApp, he pushed back as Facebook questioned the encryption he’d helped build and laid the groundwork to show targeted ads and facilitate commercial messaging. Acton also walked away from Facebook a year before his final tranche of stock grants vested. “It was like, okay, well, you want to do these things I don’t want to do,” Acton says in his exclusive interview. “It’s better if I get out of your way. And I did.” It was perhaps the most expensive moral stand in history. Acton took a screenshot of the stock price on his way
out the door—the decision cost him $850 million.

WhatsApp

He’s following a similar moral code now. He clearly doesn’t relish the spotlight this story will bring and is quick to underscore that Facebook “isn’t the bad guy.” (“I think of them as just very good businesspeople.”) But he paid dearly for the right to speak his mind. “As part of a proposed settlement at the end, [Facebook management] tried to put a nondisclosure agreement in place”, Acton says, and he adds: “That was part of the reason that
I got sort of cold feet in terms of trying to settle with these guys”.

Read the full story here.

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