Brian Acton, an American Businessman, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist known for his works in Whatsapp, a mobile messaging application. The application was later acquired by facebook in 2014, for a deal of $19.6 billion. At the time, it was the largest acquisition of a venture-backed company in history. Acton is the 836th-richest person in the world (as of August 2020), with a net worth of $2.5 billion. But how did a regular Computer Engineer become the ‘Brian Acton’ that we know today? In this article we will learn about the past life of Brian Acton, and would discover the decisions that did wonders for him.
Born in the Year 1972, in Michigan, USA, Acton belonged to a family line of businesspersons. Significance and Responsibility regarding businesses were deeply ingrained onto him during his early years. Acton graduated from the Stanford University in Computer Science in 1994. Acton worked at Rockwell international, Apple Inc. and Adobe Systems between the years 1992- 1996. In 1996, He joined Yahoo Inc., where he met Jan Koum (co-founder of Whatsapp) who was working there as an infrastructure engineer. For the next 9 years, Acton and Koum worked at Yahoo Inc. and left the company in September of 2007.
In January 2009, Jan Koum bought an iPhone and speculated that the 7 month old app store which is at its infancy, is about to spawn an industry of its own (revolving around apps). He planned about developing an app, and notified his friends Alex Fisherman and Brian Acton. The application was given the name Whatsapp by Koum, and a week following his birthday February 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California. The application soon became the most ambitious project of Acton. In 2014 whatsapp was acquired by Facebook Inc. for a sum of $19.4 Billion. After the purchase Acton continued to work in Whatsapp. Following the purchase Whatsapp became the most popular messaging app with over 600 million users. In September 2017, Acton left WhatsApp over disputes regarding illicit advert monetization. While doing so he voluntarily left $850 million due to leaving a few months before vesting was complete.
Signal: A New Beginning
After leaving Whatsapp, Brian Acton (alongside Moxie Marlinspike) founded Signal Foundation the parent company of Signal Messaging App in 2018. Signal app is similar to Whatsapp in Functionality, but differs in the spirit. The Signal app is an Open Source Project as opposed to Whatsapp (which is closed source), and the company responsible for the app is a Non-Profit Organization. Signal app aspires to provide private communication accessible and ubiquitous by the means of their app. The app got released on 10th January 2018. Initially the app didn’t create much buzz due to the Messaging application market being dominated by Facebook and its subsidiaries. But the app soon caught the attention of several dominant figures such as Elon Musk and Edward Snowden, which not only empathised their use but also praised the transparency Signal app provides to the Users. But this was just the beginning, and paved the way for what was about to follow!
Whatsapp Updated TOS – February 2021
On January 6, 2021, Whatsapp announced a revision to its former Terms of Service. The epitome of this Update was that Facebook would now have more information regarding each individual user of Whatsapp. This update would also allow Whatsapp to store (and use) certain metadata regarding its users. Which in short is a form of Privacy Invasion. And this update is rigid on its terms i.e. users disagreeing with it won’t be allowed to use the application anymore. This created a massive backlash towards the company by its users, and motivated the users to ditch the app for finding alternatives to it which won’t have such devious TOS regarding their data. One of the apps which fits this profile was the Signal app. The app fulfills the functionality of Whatsapp while preserving user privacy. This led to the widespread adoption of the app, consequently leading the app to become the most downloaded app on the Apple App store.
The Signal app got Brian Acton in the spotlight once again. All this complements the saying that a “person with potential isn’t dependent on its works”. A promising person could produce favourable results consistently. Brian Acton is a live example of the aforementioned statement, as he not only produced the World’s most used mobile app: Whatsapp, but was also able to create Signal app from scratch.