Bloomberg Billionaires Index

View profiles for each of the world’s 500 richest people, see the biggest movers, and compare fortunes or track returns.

#132 Jan Koum $10.4B

Random fact: Co-founded WhatsApp with former Yahoo colleague Brian Acton.

Overview

Koum is co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp, a Mountain View, California-based mobile-messaging service that has 1.2 billion active monthly users who send more than 50 billion messages daily. He sold the company to Facebook for $22 billion in 2014 and is now a director at the social media giant. He sold more than $4 billion worth of its stock in 2016.

As of July 25, 2017:
Last change +$32.5M (+0.3%)
YTD change +$1.56B (+17.6%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset Cash
Citizenship United States
Age 41
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Jan Koum's net worth of $10.4B can buy ...

0
troy ounces of gold
0
barrels of crude oil

... and is equivalent to ...

0%
of the GDP of the United States
0%
of the total wealth of the 500 richest people in the world
0%
of the top 100 U.S. college endowments
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of the top 200 U.S. executives’ total awarded compensation
0%
of U.S. existing home sales
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times the median U.S. household income

Latest News

Net Worth Summary

Cash
Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

The majority of Koum's fortune is derived from the proceeds 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 43 percent of the company at the time of the sale, according to a Bloomberg analysis of October 2014 SEC filings. The app has 1.2 billion monthly active users and 50 billion messages are sent daily, according to comments by Mark Zuckerberg on a February 2017 earnings call.

The billionaire received more than 76 million shares of Facebook and almost $2 billion in cash in the transaction, according to an October 2014 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. He owns about 0.8 percent of Facebook, according to a February 2017 SEC filing having sold more than $4 billion worth of shares in 2016.

He also collected almost 25 million shares of Facebook in the form of restricted stock units, a portion of which vests on a monthly basis from November 2015 onwards. Unvested RSUs aren't included in this calculation.

Koum donated 7.5 million shares of Facebook to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in October 2014 and gifted 5.1 million shares in May 2016, according to SEC filings.

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

Biography

Birthdate: 2/24/1976
Family: Married, No children
Education: San Jose State University

Koum was born and raised in a village outside of Kiev, Ukraine, the only child of a housewife and a construction manager. He immigrated to California with his mother at age 16, enrolling at San Jose State University and working at Ernst & Young as a security tester. He got a job as an infrastructure engineer at Yahoo in 1997, where he met his future business partner Brian Acton. Koum's father died the same year; his mother died three years later.

Koum left Yahoo in October 2007. He 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 multiple stages.

Facebook, the world’s largest social network, agreed to purchase WhatsApp in February 2014 for $22 billion in cash and stock, the biggest Internet acquisition in more than a decade.

Milestones
  • 1976 Jan Koum is born near Kiev, Ukraine.
  • 1992 Immigrates to Mountain View, California, with his mother.
  • 1997 Starts working as infrastructure engineer at Yahoo. Father dies in Ukraine.
  • 2007 Leaves Yahoo. Spends year traveling South America and playing frisbee.
  • 2009 Starts mobile-messaging service WhatsApp on his birthday.
  • 2009 Former Yahoo colleague Brian Acton becomes a Whatsapp co-founder.
  • 2011 Venture capital firm Sequioa Capital invests in WhatsApp.
  • 2014 Facebook buys WhatsApp for $22 billion in cash and stock.