WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton said that he felt like a “sellout” for allowing Facebook to buy the company.
In an interview with Forbes, Acton admitted that he had to live with the decision of letting Mark Zuckerberg acquire his company every day, as he reckons he is responsible for selling WhatsApp users’ privacy “to a larger benefit.”
He made headlines when he left Facebook almost a year ago — and then went on to publicly support the #DeleteFacebook movement after it was revealed that the social media platform mishandled the personal information or their users.
“I am a sellout. I acknowledge that. At the end of the day, I sold my company. I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit. I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day,” he told Forbes.
When the news of Facebook’s data breach broke out in March this year, Acton urged his social media followers to abandon the platform. He also donated $50 million to the alternative encrypted messaging app Signal.
Acton — and cofounder Jan Koum — sold WhatsApp to Facebook for a whopping $22 billion in 2014, in what was widely considered to be one of the greatest deals of the century. But Acton left the company 10 months ago, claiming that he wanted to start his own non-profit organization.
The businessman said that the main reason why he wanted out was because he didn’t agree with Zuckerberg’s goal of using targeted ads within WhatsApp. The app — which is the world’s biggest messaging service — provides its more than 1.5 billion users with ad-free, encrypted messaging.
It is time. #deletefacebook
— Brian Acton (@brianacton) March 20, 2018
“Targeted advertising is what makes me unhappy. It was like, okay, well, you want to do these things I don’t want to do. It’s better if I get out of your way. And I did,” Acton said.
Facebook’s primary business model relies on ads for profit, and when Acton took a moral stand and left the company, he also left behind around $850 million worth of unvested stock.
It is unclear how WhatsApp’s encryption system works now. According to Forbes, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s response to lawmakers when asked if the app still used end-to-end encryption was a vague “we are strong believers in encryption.”
Acton’s revelations come days after Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger also announced that they were resigning amid rumors of tensions between them and Zuckerberg.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Kieger and Systrom’s decision is allegedly due to a clash with Facebook leadership about Instagram’s autonomy. The photo-sharing app, which they sold to Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion, is arguably one of Zuckerberg’s most profitable acquisitions.