The Facebook Mudslinging Continues
Earlier this week Instagram’s cofounders made headlines by abruptly resigning from Facebook over increasing pressure to monetize their platform. Now more members of the former-founders-who-were-bought-by-Facebook-and-then-resigned club are speaking out against the Zuckerberg Empire. On Wednesday Brian Acton, the cofounder of WhatsApp who also resigned Facebook, blasted his former employer’s drive for the almighty ad dollar. Acton even went so far as to say “I sold my users’ privacy to a larger benefit, I made a choice and a compromise. And I live with that every day.” Ouchy!
Keep in mind Facebook bought WhatsApp for $22B (yes, 22x what they paid for Instagram), so you’d have to assume there was a monetization strategy all along. Brian Acton and WhatsApp’s cofounder Jan Koum envisioned a metered messaging service where users could get X number of free messages per month and then pay 1/10 of a penny for every message after that. Facebook has a different vision of harnessing WhatsApp’s user data to sell targeted media, just as they do on the mothership property. As is the case with most differences of opinion in the business world, the boss (aka Facebook) got its way, and Acton/Koum resigned in protest.
It’s hard to tell if Acton is just taking advantage of the Intagram resignations to pile on Facebook because he still holds a grudge, or if Facebook’s user privacy principles are so low that nobody can stand to work with them. Either way the optics aren’t great.