WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton said that he is still “numb” from the Facebook deal and is trying to come to terms with his new life as a billionaire.
“More than anything, you are somewhat numb,” Acton said of the negotiation process with Facebook. “You are dumbstruck as to what’s going on. You have this flotilla of lawyers around you. And it was a lot of lawyers, I’ll tell you that. Ninety-six hours of being in conference rooms with lawyers non-stop.”
“By the end of it you’re just numb. You’re just trying to sort of grasp it all, and I don’t think I really do grasp it all just yet. I think that it will hit me in stages. It’s going to change my life, I know that. I’m looking forward to it, but it also with some apprehension,” he added.
Dressed in a WhatsApp company T-shirt, cargo shorts and a Stanford cap, Acton looked like he was unaffected by his billionaire status and looked every bit the unassuming Silicon Valley entrepreneur. Acton said that he and co-founder Jan Koum decided it was better to accept Facebook’s offer rather than endure Wall Street’s scrutiny by floating an Initial Public Offering.
“I think we hit a point in our lifetime of the company when we were either going to be acquired or have to go public,” Acton said. “There’s far more pain in going public. And Mark, by the way, already did it. So kudos to the guy for doing it. He had the energy to do it, he had the stamina do it. I don’t know if I personally had that stamina.”
“It’s not like we’re going to, on day one, send all this data over to Facebook,” he said. “And by the way, we don’t have any data. People don’t really understand this, but we don’t have much beyond a phone number to work with.”
WhatsApp and Facebook are both awaiting regulatory approval for the deal. The deal was approved by the Federal Trade Commission in the U.S., but Facebook wanted the European Union to review the deal as well.