The disagreement stems from WhatsApp’s hesitance to monetize using targeted ads — Acton and Koum have notably advocated for user privacy — as Facebook attempts to leverage the service’s vast user base to justify its $22 billion acquisition in 2014.
When Facebook bought WhatsApp, it never publicly addressed how the divergent philosophies would coexist. But Mr. Zuckerberg told stock analysts that he and Mr. Koum agreed that advertising wasn’t the right way to make money from messaging apps. Mr. Zuckerberg also said he promised the co-founders the autonomy to build their own products. The sale to Facebook made the app founders both multibillionaires. Over time, each side grew frustrated with the other, according to people in both camps. Mr.Koum announced April 30 he would leave, and Mr. Acton resigned last September.The WhatsApp co-founders didn’t confront Mr. Zuckerberg at their departures about their disagreements over where to take the business, but had concluded they were fighting a losing battle and wanted to preserve their relationship with the Facebook executive, people familiar with the matter said. One person familiar with the relationships described the environment as “very passive-aggressive.”
Acton, who left Facebook last September, tweeted that he would be deleting his Facebook following the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal, reportedly surprising colleagues at Facebook who thought he had left amicably. When Mr. Acton departed Facebook, he forfeited about $900 million in potential stock awards,according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Koum is expected to officially depart in mid-August, in which case he would leave behind more than two million unvested shares worth about $400 million at Facebook’s current stock price. Both men would have received all their remaining shares had they stayed until this November, when their contracts end.
Other disagreements between WhatsApp and Facebook employees included the fact that WhatsApp’s bathroom doors that extended to the floor and WhatsApp employees’ large desk size.