Jan Koum

Inside Biography

Ukrainian-American internet inventor, Jan Koum is best known as the CEO and co-founder of WhatsApp, the mobile messaging application which was acquired by Facebook for $19.3 billion in February 2014. 

Koum is one of the richest people in the world. In 2014, he ranked #62 in Forbe's 400 richest Americans. As of 2018, his estimated net worth is $9.1 billion. 

Currently residing in Santa Clara, California, Koum has always maintained a low key personal life.

Early Life And Education Of Jan Koum

Jan Koum was born on February 24, 1976, in Kiev, Ukrainian SSR, the Soviet Union to Jewish parents. He holds American citizenship and belongs to White ethnicity. He was raised in Fastiv, outside Kiev.

Later, due to the chaotic political environment in Ukraine, his family moved to the United States to avoid unfavorable conditions of their native land. In 1992, Koum shifted to Mountain View, California along with his mother and grandmother. A social support program helped his family to get a small two bedroom apartment.

Koum's father decided to join the family but due to his sudden death, he couldn't make it to the US. He died in 1997. Koum faced many challenges during his initial stay in the US.

His mother worked as a babysitter to earn money while he worked at the grocery store. Koum found his interest in programming during his high school days. By the age of 18, he was a skilled self-taught computer network engineer.

Jan Koum attended San Jose State University and simultaneously served as security tester at Ernst & Young. 

Jan Koum's Career

Jan Koum joined Yahoo in 1997 as an infrastructure engineer where he became good friends with Brian Acton who is one of the Yahoo's earliest employees.

While working for Yahoo he was also attending the San Jose State University. Few days after Koum joined Yahoo it suffered a system breakdown, at the time he was in a cla s s. Yahoo immediately called him to solve the problem and he either had to choose his job or education. Hence he dropped out of the University and chose the job over his education. He together with Acton worked for Yahoo for nine years.

The duo shared a good bonding with one another and realized their mutual interest in the fast-growing social media. However, Yahoo didn't allow them to explore social media. So, they left their job in September 2007 and took a year off. 

Both Koum and Acton traveled around South America during their career break. On their return to the US, they both applied for Facebook and Twitter respectively but faced rejection.

In 2009, Koum brought an iPhone and he realized that the then-seven-month-old App Store offered compatible applications and ruled whole new industry of apps. This gave him an idea of creating an application for low-cost convenient communication.

Koum shared his idea with his friend, Acton and they founded a messenger app. Koum came up with the name, WhatsApp because it sounded like "what's up". On February 24, 2009, on Koum's birthday, WhatsApp Inc. was launched in California.

The fundamental principle of the duo towards there company was never accepting any form of advertising revenue. At first, they faced many challenges to promote their app. After certain time Koum nearly gave up but Acton convinced him to have patience.

Without any marketing or PR, WhatsApp gained popularity especially in lesser developed countries that heavily relied on SMS texting.

The success of WhatsApp attracted the attention of Facebook's founder, Mark Zuckerberg. In spring 2012, Zuckerberg first tried to contact Koum and eventually the two met at a coffee shop in Los Altos, California. Their series of meetings lasted for years.

Finally, on February 9, 2014, Zuckerberg invited Koum for dinner and officially presented his proposal to join the Facebook board. After 10 days, Facebook announced acquiring WhatsApp for $ 19 billion.

Jan Koum's Net Worth

Jan Koum is one of the richest entrepreneurs in the world. As per TheRichest, his estimated net worth is $11.2 billion as of 2018. Similarly, Forbes estimated his net worth in February 2018 as $9.1 billion.

In 2014, Koum was enlisted in Forbes 400 richest Americans with an estimated net worth of $7.5 billion. That year, he was one of the highest-ranked newcomers of Forbes. As of February 2014, Koum's stake in WhatsApp was worth $6.8 billion. 

Koum sold his messaging app, WhatsApp for $19.3 billion to Facebook in cash and stock. He also agreed to a yearly base salary of $1 with stock options worth billions. During the acquisition of Facebook and WhatsApp, WhatsApp had 450 million monthly active users which reached to 1.2 billion in 2018.

WhatsApp celebrated its deal with Facebook by popping Champagne bottles which cost about $200 million.

In 2016, Koum sold $2.3 billion of Facebook stock which was just about the half of his total shareholding. Koum still has $2.4 billion of Facebook stock. Later he sold more than $3 billion of its stock in 2017.

He is quite active in the social work as well. In November 2014, Koum donated $1 million to The FreeBSD Foundation, and the same year he donated close to $556 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation (SVCF).

Jan Koum also donated $1 million to the foundation responsible for the open-source operating system FreeBSD. 

Jan Koum's Personal Life

Jan Koum is unmarried and hasn't shared much detail about his private life in media. He is one of those business personalities who prefers to maintain distance with the limelight.

As per some online sources, Jan Koum is dating Ukrainian model, Evelina Mambetova since 2014. Their dating rumors started spreading after they were spotted together at public events. However, the couple hasn't confirmed anything about their love life.

In 1996, Koum a restraining order was issued against him from state court in San Jose, California after his unnamed ex-girlfriend filed a case against him. As per her former partner, Koum used to threatened her verbally and physically.

In October 2014, in an interview when Koum was asked about the 1996 incident he replied, 

"I am ashamed of the way I acted and ashamed that my behavior forced her to take legal action."

Previously, Jan Koum was a member of hackers group called, w00w00.

Below we present the interview of WhatsApp founder, Jan Koums tart from nothing to 1 Billion users


by ab-mahima, 08 Apr, 2018

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