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WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton clashed with Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg over monetizing app



Brian Acton and Sheryl Sandberg
Brian Acton and Sheryl


  • WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton has revealed that he had
    a tense clash with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg over monetizing
    the messaging app.
  • In an interview with Forbes, Acton said he wanted to
    introduce a metered model to WhatsApp, but Facebook’s top
    executives wanted to go much further.
  • Acton said Sandberg and CEO Mark Zuckerberg “represent
    a set of business practices, principles and ethics, and
    policies that I don’t necessarily agree with.”

Brian Acton has revealed the details of a fiery clash he had with
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg over monetizing WhatsApp.

In a bombshell interview with
, the WhatsApp cofounder discussed his departure last
year after disagreeing with Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for
aggressively making money off of the messaging app.

Acton and his cofounder Jan Koum, who quit in April, were
famously reluctant to introduce ads into the service, but that’s
also Facebook’s primary way of making money.

Acton shed light on one particularly tense exchange he had
with Sandberg over an idea he had to introduce a metered model on
WhatsApp. According to his version of events, Acton suggested a
model where WhatsApp charged a tenth of a penny after a large
number of free messages were used up.

“You build it once, it runs everywhere in every country,” he
explained to Forbes. “You don’t need a sophisticated sales force.
It’s a very simple business.”

But Sandberg shot it down with the terse retort: “It won’t
scale.” So Acton called her out.

“I was like, ‘No, you don’t mean that it won’t scale. You mean it
won’t make as much money as…,’ and she kind of hemmed and hawed
a little. And we moved on,” he recalled.

“I think I made my point… They are businesspeople, they are
good businesspeople. They just represent a set of business
practices, principles and ethics, and policies that I don’t
necessarily agree with.”

Mark Zuckerberg
Facebook CEO Mark


As it stands, Facebook plans to begin placing advertisements in
WhatsApp starting next year, and Acton’s metered-model has not
seen the light of day. His exchange with Sandberg is just one
disagreement over monetizing WhatsApp that Acton detailed to

In another debate with
, in which Acton asked if Facebook’s insistence on
introducing ads meant he could exit and take his full allocation
of stock, the Facebook CEO apparently said: “This is probably the
last time you’ll ever talk to me.”

Business Insider contacted Facebook for comment.

Forbes published its interview just days after another
high-profile pair of founders left Facebook.
Instagram’s Kevin Systrom and Mike Brier quit on Monday
rumours that their relationship with Zuckerberg soured as
Facebook hugged the company tighter and began managing it more

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