Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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#276 Brian Acton $6.13B

Random fact: Transferred to Stanford from University of Pennsylvania in 1991.


Acton is a co-founder of WhatsApp, a Mountain View, California-based mobile-messaging service. The company has 1.3 billion active monthly users who send more than 50 billion messages every day. The technology startup was bought in October 2014 by Facebook, the world’s largest social network, for $22 billion in cash and stock.

As of May 26, 2018:
Last change -$35.4M (-0.6%)
YTD change +$62.1M (+1.0%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset Cash
Citizenship United States
Age 46
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Brian Acton's net worth of $6.13B can buy ...

troy ounces of gold
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

of the GDP of the United States
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
of U.S. existing home sales
times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Acton's fortune is derived from Facebook stock that he received after selling WhatsApp to the world's largest social-networking company for $22 billion in cash and stock in February 2014. He owned about 22 percent of the company at the time of the sale, according to a Bloomberg analysis of October 2014 SEC filings. The app has 1.3 billion monthly active users and 55 billion messages are sent daily, according to a Fast Company article on Aug. 30, 2017.

The billionaire received almost 38 million shares of Facebook and $1 billion in cash, according to the October 2014 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He also collected about 10 million shares of Facebook in the form of restricted stock units, a portion of which vest on a monthly basis. Unvested RSUs aren't valued in this calculation.

Acton's stake hasn't been disclosed since October 2014. He's currently calculated to own 0.4 percent of Facebook based on an analysis of Whatsapp co-founder Jan Koum's selling pattern of his Facebook stake. Bloomberg calculates Acton sold about a million shares in 2015, 20 million shares in 2016 and 9 million shares in 2017 based on Koum's disclosed sales.

Acton donated about 4 million shares of Facebook to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in October 2014, according to an SEC filing.

His cash holdings are based on an analysis of share sales, dividends, market performance, taxes and charitable contributions.


Birthdate: 2/17/1972
Family: Married, 1 child
Education: 1994, Stanford University, Bachelor's Degree, Computer Science

A Michigan native, Brian Acton grew up in St. Augustine, Florida. His stepfather was a professional golfer; his mother built an air-freight business. He transferred to Stanford University from the University of Pennsylvania in 1991, graduating three years later with a bachelor's degree in computer science. After stints at Rockwell, Adobe and Apple, Acton became employee No. 44 at Yahoo in 1996, when he was hired as a software engineer. He met future business partner Jan Koum at the Internet company one year later.

In October 2007, Koum and Acton left Yahoo and took a year off. Koum started mobile-messaging service WhatsApp on Feb. 24, 2009, his birthday. Six months later, Acton persuaded five former Yahoo colleagues to invest $250,000 in seed funding, and was granted co-founder status and a stake in the company. Sequoia Capital invested about $58 million in the startup in stages.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, bought WhatsApp for $22 billion in cash and stock, the biggest Internet acquisition in more than a decade.

  • 1972 Brian Acton is born in Michigan and grows up in St. Augustine, Florida.
  • 1994 Graduates from Stanford. Works at Rockwell, Adobe and Apple.
  • 1996 Becomes employee No. 44 at Yahoo when he's hired as a software engineer.
  • 2007 Leaves Yahoo as vice president of engineering.
  • 2009 Jan Koum starts mobile-messaging service WhatsApp on his birthday.
  • 2009 Acton becomes WhatsApp co-founder and shareholder.
  • 2014 Facebook buys WhatsApp for $22 billion in cash and stock.
  • 2017 Leaves position at Facebook to pursue philanthropy.