WhatsApp is one of the most popular messaging and voice-over-IP services in the world. It’s used by over 1.5 billion people in over 180 countries every day, making it one of the most widely used apps in history. But who owns WhatsApp?
WhatsApp was founded in 2009 by two former Yahoo! employees, Jan Koum and Brian Acton.
The pair had an instant messaging idea that quickly took off, and within just a few years they had become one of the most successful tech startups of all time. In 2014, they sold WhatsApp to Facebook for a staggering $19 billion – at that time it was the largest acquisition Facebook had ever made.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been the head of WhatsApp since its acquisition in 2014, but he isn’t technically its owner. That distinction goes to Koum and Acton, who each own major stakes in the company. After the sale to Facebook, Koum became Chief Executive Officer of WhatsApp while Acton became a board member.
Koum and Acton also have influence over how their company operates. They have been vocal about their commitment to user privacy and encryption technology on their platform – something that has drawn criticism from governments around the world who feel that encrypted messaging makes it difficult for law enforcement agencies to investigate criminal activity.
It is clear that even though Mark Zuckerberg is the head of WhatsApp since its acquisition by Facebook in 2014, he is not technically its owner. Ownership belongs to Jan Koum and Brian Acton who each own major stakes in the company and still have influence over how their company operates.