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WhatsApp growth a 'challenge': Co-founder

Boosting the adoption of messaging service WhatsApp in the United States and some other markets is proving difficult, co-founder Brian Acton said, but the company will still create substantial revenue for prospective parent Facebook.

"Growth in the United States is a challenge for us," Acton said on Wednesday after a talk at StartX, an incubator for young companies affiliated with Stanford University.

Gabriel Bouys | AFP | Getty Images

He also cited Japan and Taiwan as countries where "we could have been more successful with a little bit more effort."

But Acton otherwise struck an upbeat tone in his first public comments since Facebook said earlier this year it would acquire fast-growing WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock.

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Acton noted what he saw as WhatsApp's value, saying he believed it would send 1 billion new users to the social network, even as WhatsApp services remain apart from Facebook's.

He described the relationship between the two companies as "separate but equal," saying co-mingling the services would create "risk and peril."

"We don't look at it from the experience of, 'We're going to get swallowed by the Borg,"' he said, referring to a group in the show "Star Trek" who assimilate other species.

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Downplaying concerns that Facebook could learn data about WhatsApp users, Acton said WhatsApp had little valuable information to share.

"We don't have much beyond a phone number to work with," he said, adding the company's staff didn't trawl through user messages. Talking to reporters later, he said all messages were anyway encrypted.

— By Reuters

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