WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum leaving Facebook

WhatsApp founder plans to leave after broad clashes with parent Facebook

Jan Koum, the CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, announced Monday he is leaving the company, which is owned by Facebook.

He said he was leaving to pursue interests such as working on his vehicle, playing ultimate frisbee and collecting Porsches.

He said he would still be "cheering WhatsApp on - just from the outside".

According to the Washington Post, Koum's departure is the result of clashes over issues like encryption, and he is also expected to step down from Facebook's board of directors. The move follows the departure previous year of fellow WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who has since been publicly critical of the social-media giant.

European regulators want to stop or limit Facebook's plans to use WhatsApp user data, including phone numbers, to develop products and target ads.

Facebook declined immediate requests for comment.

"Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp", he promised.

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Koum's concerns over Facebook's attitude towards privacy may have started in 2016, when an update to WhatsApp's privacy policy noted that the company planned to start sharing user data with Facebook.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg also responded to Koum's post, saying he would miss working closely with him.

When WhatsApp agreed to the company's sale to Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion, it said WhatsApp would remain an independent service and would not share its data with Facebook.

Though the Cambridge Analytica revelations contributed to a climate of broader frustration with Facebook among WhatsApp employees, Koum made his decision to leave prior to the scandal, the people said. In September 2007 Koum and his friend, Acton, left Yahoo and took a year off, traveling around South America and playing ultimate frisbee.

Other gradual changes that pushed Facebook and WhatsApp closer together reportedly served to increase tensions between the two companies, culminating in Koum announcing his departure this week, with the Post describing the Ukrainian-born entrepreneur as "worn down by the differences in approach".

In February, he invested $50 million in encrypted messaging service Signal through the newly founded nonprofit Signal Foundation and a month later, he publicly supported the #deletefacebook movement, by asking all his Twitter followers to delete Facebook.

Today, WhatsApp is the world's most-used messaging app today with over one billion monthly users, that's more than double the 450 million it had at the date of the acquisition. He's already sold $8 billion worth of Facebook stock since 2015, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

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