WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits, Neeraj Arora may take charge

WhatsApp co-founder is leaving the company amid privacy controversy at Facebook

WhatsApp Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jan Koum is planning to quit, according to his Facebook post.

"I'm leaving at a time when people are using WhatsApp in more ways than I could have imagined", said Koum in a Facebook post announcing the decision.

In a message posted online, Koum simply said that he was "taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology", but a report in the Washington Post claims his departure comes after a clash with Facebook over data privacy issues as well as the messaging service's business strategy.

WhatsApp's management has always opposed advertising, saying they did not want to be "just another ad clearing house" where the engineering team "spends their day tuning data mining".

In August 2016, WhatsApp stirred criticism from privacy advocates when it seemed to veer from its promise by announcing it would start to share user data with Facebook.

Immediately following the post, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a comment thinly disguised as praise that mostly drives home the company's apparent role in helping decentralize power. "Those values will always be at the heart of WhatsApp".

He confirmed his exit in a Facebook post dated April 30, adding that we meant to take a period of absence away from the tech industry in favor of personal pursuits, with The Washington Post citing sources close to the developments claiming he has also resigned his board membership. Facebook also paid $122 million in fines to the European Commission for "misleading" statements it made in promoting the acquisition of WhatsApp.

In response to a request for comment, Facebook directed CNN to Koum's farewell post. Acton recently endorsed a #DeleteFacebook social media campaign that has gained force in the wake of the data privacy controversy sparked by Cambridge Analytica, the political marketing firm tied to the Trump campaign, had inappropriately obtained the private information of 87 million Facebook users.

Koum and Acton, both former Yahoo employees, launched WhatsApp in 2009.

WhatsApp cofounders Jan Koum and Brian Acton. Zuckerberg wished Koum well on Facebook.

Since then WhatsApp has started building and testing free tools to help businesses use WhatsApp to reach their customers, with the view to later start charging businesses. WhatsApp is also now piloting its UPI-based mobile payment service in India.

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