File image: WhatsApp co-founder and CEO, Jan Koum. (Independent UK).

CAPE TOWN - The co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, Jan Koum on Monday confirmed in a Facebook post that he will be departing from WhatsApp. However, his exit may cost him a whopping R12.60 billion, reports My Broadband. 

His recent announcement has raised much concern over the reason for Koum’s exit. 

According to reports, Koum reportedly clashed with the parent company, Facebook’s attempts to use WhatsApp’s personal data and weaken its encryption, the Washington Post earlier reported, citing people familiar with the internal information.

“It’s been almost a decade since Brian and I started WhatsApp, and it’s been an amazing journey with some of the best people,” Koum, WhatsApp’s chief executive, said in a post on his Facebook page referring to co-founder Brian Acton. “But it is time for me to move on.”

This comes at a time where Facebook has been scrutinised for overstepping users privacy in the Cambridge Analytica saga. 

Meanwhile, Koum’s exit may cost him a staggering R12.60 billion. The CEO received about 24.9 million restricted shares as part of the WhatsApp deal. Most of these shares have been vested while the remaining 1.9 million shares are reportedly due to vest in mid-May and mid-August. This includes a portion of 2.1 million in November. 

However, these shares depend on Koum being employed during the above-mentioned dates. If Koum leaves the social messaging company prior to May 15, he may stand to lose 5.8 million shares. This is worth R12.61 billion, as of Monday’s market close. 

If Koum can prove that his exit was, in fact, an involuntary termination or resignation for good reason, he may well stand to still receive his R12.61 billion. However, this is a small knock compared to his estimated R132 billion net worth. 

Take a look at some facts about the WhatsApp co-founder:

FACTSHEET

1.Koum was born on February 24, 1976, in Ukraine. 

2.He is an American citizen, entrepreneur and computer programmer. 

3. At the age of 18, Koum worked at Ernst and Young as a security tester whilst studying at San Jose State University. It was at Ernst and Young that Koum met the fellow business partner and co-founder of WhatsApp, Brian Acton. 

4.He then went on to work for Yahoo in 1997 as an infrastructure engineer. 

5. The programmer then developed WhatsApp on his birthday on February 24, 2009. Although the app initially gained little traction, it soon became a hit and now has about 1.5 billion users globally. 

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- BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE