WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton, who has amassed a $6.5bn fortune since Facebook’s acquisition of the hit messaging service for $19bn in 2014, is to leave the company in order to head up his own non-profit foundation.
Acton is remaining tight-lipped on the precise focus of his cryptic largesse but his departure will create a significant void within WhatsApp, with his current duties unlikely to be filled by any one employee.
Giving his rationale for departing in a Facebook post published on Tuesday afternoon, Acton said: “I am very fortunate at my age to have the flexibility to take new risks and focus on what I'm passionate about.
“I've decided to start a non-profit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology and communications. It's something I've thought about for a while, and now it's time to just focus and execute. I'll have more to share in the coming months.”
Acton co-founded WhatsApp with chief executive Jan Koum in January 2010, becoming engineering lead for the service and a key advocate for encryption.
Since taking ownership of the messaging service Facebook has been seeking ways to monetise WhatsApp by allowing businesses to communicate directly with its one billion daily users.