Facebook exec hits back at WhatsApp co-founder: 'A whole new standard of low-class'

Key Points
  • Marcus says that Zuckerberg gave WhatsApp the type of office space they wanted and helped support the app's encryption system.
  • He said that many founders do their best work after their companies are acquired by Facebook.
David Marcus
Michael Newberg | CNBC

Facebook's David Marcus, who ran Facebook's messaging products before starting the blockchain group earlier this year, is defending the company and CEO Mark Zuckerberg after a WhatsApp co-founder spoke critically of his experience at the company.

Brian Acton started WhatsApp with Jan Koum, and sold the company to Facebook for $22 billion in 2014. Acton left Facebook a year ago, and Koum departed in April. Forbes published a story on Wednesday based on a lengthy interview with Acton, in which he says that Zuckerberg was in a rush to make money from the messaging service and undermine elements of its encryption technology.

Marcus responded in a post that he said was not written at the request of the company and reflects his personal views.

"There are few companies out there that empower and retain founders and their teams for as long as Facebook does," wrote Marcus, who joined the company from PayPal in 2014. "For some of them, Facebook is the place they did their best work, and had the most impact in the world."

Marcus said that after the WhatsApp deal, Zuckerberg gave the team an office with a different layout and more personal space even though "this irritated people at Facebook." He also said that Zuckerberg fully supported the end-to-end encryption global rollout on WhatsApp, which he claims took place after the acquisition.

"Mark's view was that WhatsApp was a private messaging app, and encryption helped ensure that people's messages were truly private," he wrote.

As for the business model, Marcus says that Zuckerberg "protected WhatsApp for a very long period of time," including on the advertising side and for business messaging.

"Lastly — call me old fashioned. But I find attacking the people and company that made you a billionaire, and went to an unprecedented extent to shield and accommodate you for years, low-class," he wrote. "It's actually a whole new standard of low-class."

Acton's interview comes just after Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger announced that they're leaving Facebook, six years after that acquisition. A number of other top execs have announced plans to leave the company in 2018.

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