Jan Koum quit Facebook to collect Porsches -- here's why he owes everything to the German sports car

GettyWhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum.
  • WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum quit Facebook on Monday to collect Porsches.
  • He owes a lot to Porsche, with his desire to own one of the German sports cars lighting a fire under his ambition in the early years of his career.
  • “For me, a Porsche always represented the epitome of success,” he said.

Jan Koum, the billionaire cofounder of WhatsApp, quit Facebook on Monday with a flash of honesty that you rarely see in dry corporate statements.

Amid reported friction over the collection of WhatsApp user data, Koum said he would leave Facebook and his seat on the company’s board to focus on things he enjoys outside of work, “such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee.”

As sign-offs go, it was the “most genuine Silicon Valley ‘peace out'” ever, according to New York Times technology reporter Mike Isaac. Koum then doubled down on his remarks on Twitter, replying to observations about his Porsche habit.

“Dude probably went to #Luftgekühlt and decided to quit his job,” said Twitter user Colin Moreshead, referring to an event celebrating air-cooled Porsches set up by Le Mans class winner Patrick Long.

Koum replied: “Not only did I go to luftgekuhlt, I brought [sic] two of my cars there…” In another message, he pointed out the exact model he’s looking for: “I am looking for 1989 930 in a highly original condition and without a sunroof…”

But for Koum, who sold popular messaging service WhatsApp to Facebook for $US19 billion in 2014, Porsches are a serious business. It could be argued he owes everything to the German sports cars.

In 2016 he told Porsche customer magazine Christophorus how the only brand he ever coveted was Porsche when he was growing up in a suburb of Kiev, Ukraine. Being able to buy a Porsche was what fuelled his ambition.

“For me, a Porsche always represented the epitome of success,” he said. “And the desire to have a car like that was a key incentive to learn more and to work even harder.”

Koum bought his first Porsche 911 in 2003, he told Christophorus. And he’s not fussy about having a fancy sound system: “I prefer to buy cars that have a ‘radio delete’ option because the best music of all is the sound of the six-cylinder boxer engine.”

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