Friday, 28 September 2018

Why the WhatsApp acquisition ended with everyone mad at each other

On September 17th of last year, WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton quit the company to start a nonprofit foundation. Six months later, after several former Facebook executives had come forward to criticize the company, Acton tweeted “It is time. #deletefacebook.” Ever since, we’ve wondered what exactly led him to tweet.
Now we know. In his first interview since leaving Facebook, Acton told Forbes’ Parmy Olson that he felt betrayed by the company in two ways. One, Acton believes Facebook misled European Union regulators about its plans to commingle WhatsApp and Facebook data so as to improve its ad targeting capabilities. Two, Facebook began to “explore” advertising-based revenue models for WhatsApp without the founders’ consent. In both cases, Acton felt that Facebook had made him look like a liar. And so he quit, leaving behind $850 million in unvested stock.
”At the end of the day, I sold my company,” Acton told Forbes. “I am a sellout. I acknowledge that.”
On Twitter, pundits mostly rolled their eyes at Acton’s change of heart. Kara Swisher, quoting an unnamed source, offered the funniest parody of Acton’s mea culpa: “I live with this guilt every day on this beachfront property here in Fiji. I can barely see my brand new 200 ft yacht out there in the harbor through the tears I’m shedding for my users’ privacy.”

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