WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton is planning to leave the company he helped create. Acton described his motivation for the move in a Facebook post Tuesday evening. He will transition his responsibilities to other engineers at the company and officially leave in November, a source familiar with the matter told VentureBeat.
“I’ve decided to start a nonprofit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology, and communications,” Acton wrote. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a while, and now it’s time to just focus and execute. I’ll have more to share in the coming months.”
In 2009, Acton launched WhatsApp with now-CEO Jan Koum. Over the years, WhatsApp became one of the most-used chat apps on the planet, and today it has 1.3 billion monthly active users and 1 billion daily active users. In 2014, WhatsApp was sold to Facebook for more than $16 billion.
Acton announced his decision to leave WhatsApp a week after the company launched monetization efforts that had been in the works for over a year. This new direction is centered around connecting businesses with WhatsApp users. The Facebook-owned company is moving to connect businesses with customers on chat apps while rivals like Twitter, Skype, Apple’s iMessage, and Facebook Messenger are seeking to do the same.
WhatsApp at one time made a committment to never sell ads, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg had alluded to the possibility of advertising on the chat app in conversations with analysts this summer. Facebook Messenger began allowing some advertisements on its home page in July.