SIPS of Leadership-What's Up with WhatsApp?


SIPS=Stories of Inspiration, Perspective or Strategies for applying The Leadership Process

Earlier this week I heard the headlines about WhatsApp being sold to Facebook. Until tonight, I hadn’t paid much attention to the background of WhatsApp, founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton.

Then I listened to a replay of Tom Sullivan’s radio show from Thursday.  He shared the story of Jan Koum and how he was raised in a small village outside of Kiev, Ukraine, in a house with no hot water. Koum’s  parents rarely used their phones, out of fear that the government was listening. This experience most likely impacted Koum’s suspicion of government power and appreciation and desire for privacy. Throughout WhatsApp’s short history, he and Action have been protective of users' privacy and opposed integrating advertising into the app.

The point Sullivan wanted to make is that Koum’s story is a reminder that while many of us have a picture of people taking advantage of “our country’s generosity” of our government programs, “we can’t paint everybody with a broad brush.” Some people “are smart and want to get ahead.” Sullivan is referring to the fact that Koum used government assistance to get started after arriving in Mountain View, California with his mother. 

When it comes to us, those of us who want to lead, to make progress with new ideas; this is a story that inspires. There were times when things didn’t go well for Koum and Acton. One ironic example is that they were both turned down to work for Facebook.

For us, we can fine tune our focus so we can see what we want, start taking action and stretch our ability to adapt.