Jan Koum, WhatsApp Co-Founder: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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(afromusing via Flickr)

WhatsApp was just bought by Facebook for $16 billion. Co-founder Jan Koum has been in the news a lot as a result. Pictured above, Koum is seen here with IT professional Juliana Rotich in April of 2013. Here are some interesting facts about Jan Koum.

1. Jan Koum Really, Really Hates Ads

After the Facebook deal, Jan Koum issued a statement that WhatsApp would remain ad-free on the WhatsApp website.

That’s no surprise, given Koum’s distaste for ads. Business Insider recently put together an article about how much Koum hates ads, which noted:

“Koum’s first ever tweet says, “Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.” (This is a reference to Fight Club.)

In a big profile in Forbes, Koum says, “Dealing with ads is depressing … You don’t make anyone’s life better by making advertisements work better.”

2. Jan Koum Used to Receive Welfare

While he might be wealthy today, Jan Koum used to be on welfare. Exact details haven’t surfaced, but Forbes shared the photo above of Koum signing the Facebook deal on the door of his old welfare office. Wired UK notes that during this time, Koum and his family received food stamps.

3. Jan Koum and Mark Zuckerberg Are Old Friends

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In his statement about Facebook buying WhatsApp, Mark Zuckerberg talks about how he has known Jan Koum for quite some time. Part of the statement reads:

“I’ve also known Jan (WhatsApp founder and chief executive) for a long time, and I know that we both share the vision of making the world more open and connected. I’m particularly happy that Jan has agreed to join the Facebook board and partner with me to shape Facebook’s future as well as WhatsApp’s.

Jan and the WhatsApp team have done some amazing work to connect almost half a billion people. I can’t wait for them to join Facebook and help us connect the rest of the world.”

That being said, things haven’t always been rosy between Zuckerberg and the WhatsApp team. The Daily Mail reports that Brian Acton, Jan Koum’s WhatsApp co-founder, was rejected from both Twitter and Facebook.

The Mail adds:

“In a tweet on his Twitter account at the time, he had posted: ‘Facebook turned me down. It was a great opportunity to connect with some fantastic people. Looking forward to life’s next adventure.'”

4. Jan Koum Has Ukrainian Roots

Forbes reports that Koum has Ukrainian roots. He was born and raised just outside of Kiev. He and his mother came to the US when Koum was 16.

5. Jan Koum Has a Net Worth of $6.8 Billion

According to Forbes, Koum owns 45% of WhatsApp. After the Facebook deal, that makes him worth $6.8 billion.

The Bloomberg video above outlines why WhatsApp was a smart purchase for Facebook.

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