The World's Finest Marketplace

Caverswall-Castle-Brochure Cover Billionaire Magazine new logo Monacosummit Banner


    an Koum born in Kiev, Ukraine is CEO and co-founder with Brian Acton of WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application which was acquired by Facebook in February 2014 for $19 Billion.


Jan was originally part of a group of hackers called w00w00, where he met the future founders of Napster Shawn Fanning and Jordan Ritter. Jan is Jewish and grew up in Fastiv outside Kiev in the Ukraine. He moved with his mother and grandmother to Mountain View, California in 1992 where a social support program helped the family to get a small two-bedroom apartment at the age of 16. His father had intended to join the family later, but finally remained in Ukraine.


At first Jan's mother worked as a babysitter while he worked as a cleaner at a grocery store. By the age of 18 he became interested in programming and he enrolled at San Jose State University whilst simultaneously working at Ernst & Young as a security tester where he met future co-founder Brian Acton. They both went on to work as infrastructure engineers for Yahoo for the next nine years where they strengthened their friendship and their entrepreneurial curiosities.


By September 2007 Jan and Brian were ready for a change so they left Yahoo and took a year off traveling around South America and playing ultimate frisbee. After their year of travelling and exploring their ideas both applied and failed to work for Facebook.


Opportunity struck in January 2009 when Jan bought an iPhone and realized that the then seven-month old App Store was about to spawn a whole new industry of apps. He visited his friend Alex Fishman and the two talked for hours about Jan’s idea for an app over tea at Fishman’s kitchen counter. Jan almost immediately chose the name WhatsApp because it sounded like “what’s up,” and a week later on his birthday, Feb. 24, 2009, he incorporated WhatsApp Inc. in California and Facebook bought the business from them 5 years later for $19 billion.

logo_small Billionaire

Jan Koum

Facebook square black large black and white envelope Twitter circle black large Jan Koum and Brian Acton