Brian Acton: Connecting People Through WhatsApp

Spare yourself a minute or two and make a note of the mobile applications you consistently use. There’s a high chance of WhatsApp being one of them. Want to text someone? WhatsApp. Want to do a video call? WhatsApp. Eager to share the latest joke? WhatsApp. The one stop solution for messaging, voice calls, video calls, and whatnot, WhatsApp is now an indispensable part of our life. WhatsApp is in a league of its own, racing past competition.  By 2011, approximately one billion messages were being sent per day on the app.

Indians are the most active users in WhatsApp according to country wise survey; they are 10% of the total users worldwide. By 2013, WhatsApp had 200 million active users and according to a recently concluded survey, WhatsApp has over 1.5 billion monthly active users. WhatsApp was co-founded by Brian Acton and Jan Koum. It was then acquired by Facebook in 2014 for a whopping $19 billion. Presently, Acton is associated with the Signal Foundation.

Who is Brian Acton?

Brian Acton is the co-founder of WhatsApp, a freeware platform to send messages and files. He is a computer programmer and an internet entrepreneur. Brian is currently is the executive chairman of the Signal Foundation, a company wants to secure global communication across the world. Brian is a former employee of Yahoo! and was rejected by Facebook for employment. A child prodigy, Brian was brought up in Central Florida and studied at Lake Howell High School. Even after receiving a full scholarship to pursue studies at the University of Pennsylvania, he chose Stanford University. He has a degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.


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Brian’s Involvements

Brian was a system administrator at Rockwell International, before switching to the tech giant, Apple Inc. and Adobe where he was a product tester. He was also associated with Yahoo! as its 44th employee. He worked for over nine years at Yahoo! and unfortunately, lost millions when he had invested in the dotcom boom. The dotcom bubble was a period of excessive speculation in the United States where there was a massive growth of the internet world; it lasted over a decade. After a loss in investments, Brain and Jan took a year off and went to the neighboring continent of South America. Post this vacation, Brian and Jan applied at Facebook, but both were rejected.

WhatsApp

WhatsApp Logo
WhatsApp Logo

The Facebook rejection was disappointing but not enough to deter Brian.  When Jan Koum brought an iPhone in the year 2009, Brian recognized the endless opportunities the App Store had. The duo along with Alex Fishman pondered over an app of theirs. They announced the coming of WhatsApp by setting up its headquarters in California on the 24thof February, 2009. Brian sold WhatsApp to the social media giant Facebook in 2014 at a valuation of $22 billion. Life’s a full circle in the end, the company that rejected Brian ended up buying his own venture!

Brian Acton Net Worth And Influence

Brian’s net worth is approximately $2.5 billion. He is ranked 551st by Forbes. By owning a 20% stake in WhatsApp, he was one of the most influential people in the company. He was later offered jobs at companies like Twitter and Facebook, which he turned down. He even left WhatsApp due to a dispute with Facebook regarding the monetization of WhatsApp, voluntarily parting away with $850 million in unvested options.


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Brian Acton Story

With success comes great power, and with great power comes great responsibility. A venerated entrepreneur ought to serve the society. This attribute is deeply entrenched in all the successful entrepreneurs we’ve seen till date. Brian lays great emphasis on philanthropy. In 2014, Brian and his wife Tegan Acton started the Sunlight Giving. This organization provides basic services to the children in  the range of 0-4 years who belong to families with low income. After leaving WhatsApp in 2017, he started another foundation named the Signal Foundation. Presently, he is supporting the #DeleteFacebook movement.

Even after multiple setbacks, Brain didn’t back down. He learned from his mistakes, not repeating them again. “You never know what’s coming up, just don’t forget to try harder the next day”, advocates Brian. The fact that Facebook rejected Brian but ended up buying his startup is inspiring. Brian and Koum focused on user satisfaction, denying advertisements on WhatsApp. The Facebook-WhatsApp partnership wasn’t one Brian wished for due to conflict in opinions (Facebook is known for advertisements and the duo of Brian and Koum never supported ads on WhatsApp). A man true to his words, Brian has always placed his consumers over publicity and money. A luminary, Brian Acton has left an indelible mark on the digital space.