WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, co-founder on Tuesday announced that he would be leaving the company, taking to Facebook to reveal that the reason he decided to leave was directly related to a new project he wants to pursue. Acton says that the project has been on his mind for “a while” and that he is fortunate to have the “flexibility,” at his age, to refocus his efforts on things he is passionate about. As to the project itself, Acton leaves quite a bit to the imagination by hinting that it will be an organization exploring “the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications.” That leaves plenty of room for speculation but there’s currently not enough information to make any kind of determination about what exactly Acton has in mind.
While Acton may be the lesser-known co-founder of the company, after eight years at WhatsApp, he is currently valued at around $6.5 billion. Sources close to the company also seem to have suggested that he was the driving force behind the internal engineering that went into WhatsApp and its many innovations. Beyond that, those same sources have said that that he was a strong proponent and backer of the company’s implementation of end-to-end encryption which was added in April of last year alongside other innovations. As to what he’s leaving behind, the service now has over 1.3 billion active users and is expected to release WhatsApp-branded enterprise-to-consumer interaction solutions at some point in the near future with the goal of finally being able to generate significant revenue which it could ultimately turn into a profit.
In the meantime, WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum will be staying with the company and has not yet made any statements about Acton’s decision to leave the firm that ended up being Facebook’s second largest acquisition in history, valued at approximately $19 billion. However, the whole situation does appear to be on good terms, as WhatsApp has said that Acton’s role at the company is not one that will be easily filled by any single employee. For the time being, replacing Acton is not something that WhatsApp is even planning to attempt in the first place, a company spokesperson confirmed earlier this week.