- 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 Forbes, 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.”
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 Forbes.
In another debate with Zuckerberg, 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 amid rumours that their relationship with Zuckerberg soured as Facebook hugged the company tighter and began managing it more closely.
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