Jan Koum

Benjamin Wachenje

Title: Co-founder and CEO, WhatsApp, now owned by Facebook

Born: February 24, 1976, Kyiv, Ukraine (then USSR)

Education: San Jose State University

Early Marker: Worked for Ernst & Young testing IT systems for security flaws.

Big Idea: Whats App is a cross-platform instant messaging subscription service for smartphones able to send video, audio and photos as well as text at rates cheaper than telcos charge for SMS. Facebook sees its potential use as part of a suite of basic free data-based services on which premium data services can piggyback.

Wave of the Future: Peer-to-peer networking, M-economy

Latest Special Reports

  • Between new federal tax bill changes and underutilized deductions, CNBC finds ways to save money while filing taxes.

  • Coverage of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

  • To turn the page on structural racism, communities are Changing The Narrative. In this series, CNBC explores the central themes of racial healing through stories addressing implicit bias in economic data, the major obstacles to racial equity at work, how fiscal investment can change the narrative on minority entrepreneurship and the ramifications of the great resignation in the Black community.

CNBC25: Rebels, Icons and Leaders