WhatsApp Cofounder Felt ‘Numb’ Walking Away from $850M at Facebook
WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton opens up about walking away from Facebook, and why time is his most valued asset.
I’m not your 20-somethings startup founder, you know, and so for me, time is actually more of an essence.
Brian Acton: I could have sucked it up and stayed. But it’s also not my DNA to phone it in. And you know, I could have done a mix of trying to have phone it in and kind of limp along and kind of half do my job. And that’s just not me.
Laurie Segall: So you could’ve stayed a year, but instead but instead you walked out the door and left $850 million on the table. Right?
Brian Acton: A little bit more. Yeah. …
Brian Acton: She’s pausing for effect.
Laurie Segall: I’m trying to think in my head … It must have been hard.
Brian Acton: But how much money do you need? Money and wealth does not buy immortality. I’m not your 20-somethings startup founder, you know, and so for me, time is actually more of an essence. How can I contribute to this world while I’m still on it? So a year is a lot of time…
Laurie Segall: How did you feel walking out of there?
Brian Acton: Um, numb. A little numb. Yeah. I mean it’s… for me, you know, it was the end of a really wonderful time and you know, it was eight years almost to the day that I was part of WhatsApp and I saw so much. Met, you know, some great people saw so much.
Laurie Segall: What were the months after like for you emotionally?
Brian Acton: You’re actually asking me something I haven’t really thought about. It was more just sort of internalizing and grokking and really understanding, sort of what I had done, um, in the- in the impact of it. I mean, I’m a fairly sort of even-keeled person. I didn’t have any sort of freak out moments or anything like that, but it was like, you know, occasionally you second guess yourself, it’s like, did I really make the right choice? Should I have stayed longer? You know, am I doing the right thing going forward? That, you know, those are some of the things where you, you sort of, you know, just sort of mentally debate yourself.