Brian Acton (right)
February 17, 1972|
|Education||Stanford University (BS)|
Co-founder of WhatsApp|
Co-founder and executive chairman of Signal Foundation
Co-founded WhatsApp with Jan Koum in 2009|
Co-founded Signal Foundation with Moxie Marlinspike in 2018
|Net worth||US$ 6.0 billion (August 2018)|
Brian Acton (born February 17, 1972) is an American computer programmer and Internet entrepreneur. He is the co-founder (with Jan Koum) of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application which was acquired by Facebook Inc. in February 2014 for US$19 billion. He was formerly employed at Yahoo Inc. In September 2017, Acton announced that he was leaving WhatsApp to start a foundation. On February 21, 2018, Acton and Moxie Marlinspike announced the formation of the Signal Foundation.
Acton, born in Michigan, grew up in Central Florida, where he graduated from Lake Howell High School. Acton received a full scholarship to study engineering at the University of Pennsylvania but left after a year to study at Stanford. He graduated from Stanford University in 1994 with a degree in computer science.
In 1998, Jan Koum was hired by Yahoo as an infrastructure engineer shortly after he met Acton while working at Ernst & Young as a security tester. Over the next nine years, they worked at Yahoo. Acton invested in the dotcom boom and lost millions in the dot-com bubble of 2000. In September 2007 Koum and Acton left Yahoo and took a year off, traveling around South America and playing ultimate frisbee. Both applied, and failed, to work at Facebook. In January 2009, Koum bought an iPhone and realized that the then seven-month-old App Store was about to spawn a whole new industry of apps. He visited his friend Alex Fishman and talked about developing an app. Koum almost immediately chose the name WhatsApp because it sounded like "what's up", and a week later on his birthday, Feb. 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California.
In 2014, Koum and Acton agreed to sell WhatsApp to Facebook for approximately $19 billion USD in cash and stock. Forbes estimates that Acton held over 20% stake in the company, making his net worth around $3.8 billion. According to Acton's personal Twitter feed, he was turned down for employment by both Twitter and Facebook in 2009. In September 2017, Acton left WhatsApp. Acton told Forbes that he left over a dispute with Facebook regarding monetization of WhatsApp, and voluntarily left $850 million in unvested options on the table by leaving a few months before vesting was completed. He also noted that he was coached by Facebook executives to mislead European regulators regarding Facebook's intention to merge Facebook and WhatsApp user data.
Acton and his wife Tegan Acton started Sunlight Giving in 2014. Sunlight Giving is a family foundation dedicated to supporting the basic services of low-income families with young children ages 0-5.
Acton left WhatsApp in September 2017 to start a new foundation, the Signal Foundation. On March 20, 2018, Forbes reported that Acton had publicly tweeted support for the #DeleteFacebook movement, in a "new level of public backlash".
He is married to Tegan Acton. Contrary to reports, he is not married or related to Marina Acton, a celebrity.
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