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Facebook exec David Marcus attacks WhatsApp cofounder



David Marcus
Facebook VP of Messenger
David Marcus.


The gloves are off and Facebook’s current and former executives
are now engaged in an open war of words.

Facebook executive David Marcus just posted a lengthy blog post
attacking Brian Acton, the cofounder of WhatsApp, who left the
Facebook organization a year ago and criticized the company in a
recent interview with Forbes. 

“Today Forbes published an interview of Brian Acton that
contained statements, and recollection of events that differ
greatly from the reality I witnessed first-hand. As a result, I
felt compelled to write about the actual facts,” Marcus wrote in
a blog post.

This story is developing…


Here’s the full blog post by David Marcus:


The other side of the story

[Disclaimer: no one at Facebook asked me to post this. I
just had to do it. And these are my personal views

Today Forbes published an interview of Brian Acton that contained
statements, and recollection of events that differ greatly from
the reality I witnessed first-hand. As a result, I felt compelled
to write about the actual facts.

First — there are few companies out there that empower and retain
founders and their teams for as long as Facebook does. Kevin
Systrom and Mike Krieger thrived at Facebook for six years, Jan
Koum and Brian Acton over four and three years, respectively. For
some of them, Facebook is the place they did their best work, and
had the most impact in the world. The main reason is because Mark
personally shields founders from what typically frustrates them
in larger companies, giving them unprecedented autonomy. This
attitude towards supporting founders and their teams sometimes
comes at a cost to the company. For example, WhatsApp founders
requested a completely different office layout when their team
moved on campus. Much larger desks and personal space, a policy
of not speaking out loud in the space, and conference rooms made
unavailable to fellow Facebookers nearby. This irritated people
at Facebook, but Mark personally supported and defended it.

Second — on encryption. The global roll-out of end-to-end
encryption on WhatsApp happened after the acquisition, and with
Mark’s full support. Yes, Jan Koum played a key role in
convincing Mark of the importance of encryption, but from that
point on, it was never questioned. I witnessed Mark defending it
a number of internal meetings where there was pushback —
never for advertising or data collection reasons but
for concerns about safety — and even in Board Meetings. Mark’s
view was that WhatsApp was a private messaging app, and
encryption helped ensure that people’s messages were truly

Third — on the business model. I was present in a lot of these
meetings. Again, Mark protected WhatsApp for a very long period
of time. And you have to put this in the context of a large
organization with businesses knocking on our door to have the
ability to engage and communicate with their customers on
WhatsApp the same way they were doing it on Messenger. During
this time, it became pretty clear that while advocating for
business messaging, and being given the opportunity to build and
deliver on that promise, Brian actively slow-played the
execution, and never truly went for it. In my view, if you’re
passionate about a certain path — in this case, letting
businesses message people and charging for it — and if you have
internal questions about it, then work hard to prove that your
approach has legs and demonstrate the value. Don’t be
passive-aggressive about it. And by the way the paid messaging
that WhatsApp is rolling out now sounds pretty similar to metered
messaging from my point of view…

Lastly — call me old fashioned. But I find attacking the people
and company that made you a billionaire, and went to an
unprecedented extent to shield and accommodate you for years,
low-class. It’s actually a whole new standard of low-class.

I’ll close by saying that as far as I’m concerned, and as a
former lifelong entrepreneur and founder, there’s no other large
company I’d work at, and no other leader I’d work for. I want to
work on hard problems that positively impact the lives of
billions of people around the world. And Facebook is truly the
only company that’s singularly about people. Not about selling
devices. Not about delivering goods with less friction. Not about
entertaining you. Not about helping you find information. Just
about people. It makes it hard sometimes because people don’t
always behave in predictable ways (algorithms do), but it’s so
worth it. Because connecting people is a noble mission, and the
bad is far outweighed by the good.

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