Bloomberg Billionaires Index

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# 492 Brian Acton $4.23B

Random fact: Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital invested in WhatsApp.


Acton is a co-founder of WhatsApp, a mobile-messaging service. The app had 1.5 billion active monthly users who sent more than 60 billion messages every day at the start of 2018. 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 :
Last change -$25.0M ( -0.6%)
YTD change +$500M ( +13.4%)
Industry Technology
Biggest asset Cash
Citizenship United States
Age 47
Wealth Self-made
View net worth over:   Max 1 year 1 quarter 1 month 1 week

Relative Value

Brian Acton's net worth of $4.23B 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

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Net Worth Summary

Private asset
Public asset
Misc. liabilities
Confidence rating:

Acton's fortune is derived from the proceeds he received after selling WhatsApp to Facebook for $22 billion in cash and stock in February 2014. He owned about 22% of the company at the time of the sale, according to a Bloomberg analysis of October 2014 SEC filings. The app has more than 1.5 billion monthly active users who send around 60 billion messages daily, according to a Facebook earnings call on Jan. 31, 2018.

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.

Acton's stake hasn't been disclosed since October 2014. He's calculated to have sold his Facebook stake in roughly equal tranches between 2015 and 2017, when he left the firm. Bloomberg calculates Acton sold about 11 million shares in 2015, 12 million shares in 2016 and 13 million shares in 2017.

Prior to Sept. 28, 2018, his share sales were based on analysis of Whatsapp co-founder Jan Koum's selling pattern of his Facebook stake. Bloomberg's approach was adjusted on this date to reflect Acton's departure from Facebook and subsequent public statements displaying disgruntlement with the firm. The change resulted in a $2 billion fall in Acton's net worth on that date.

Acton donated about 4 million shares of Facebook to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation in October 2014, according to an SEC filing. He's calculated to have donated the same amount through 2017.

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: Stanford University

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.