RAGS TO RICHES: WhatsApp Co-Founder Jan Koum Once Lived On Food Stamps

WhatsApp Co-Founders Jan Koum and Brian ActonSequoia CapitalWhatsApp Co-Founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton

37-year-old WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum was born in Ukraine. He arrived in the U.S. when he was just 16-years-old and his family struggled. They lived on food stamps, venture capitalist Jim Goetz revealed in a blog post.

In fact, Koum’s family picked up their food stamps only a couple of blocks away from WhatsApp’s offices in Mountain View, Calif., reports Wired’s David Rowan.

Flash forward to today, when Facebook announced it was buying WhatsApp for a stunning $US19 billion in cash and stock. Even if the deal falls through, axed by regulators, Facebook has agreed to pay WhatsApp $US2 billion in cash and stocks.

Forbes estimates that Koum holds about a 45% stake in the company, while his co-founder Brian Acton’s stake is estimated at over 20%.

That would make Koum worth $US6.8 billion and Acton worth a at least $US3 billion as of Facebook’s closing share price on Wednesday.

From food stamps to billionaire, that’s an incredible journey.

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