When WhatsApp co-founder Jan Koum signed a deal with Facebook on Wednesday he became an overnight billionaire, but when he first moved to the U.S. he needed food stamps to survive.
Koum, who is estimated to now be worth about $6.8 billion, was 16 when he moved to the U.S. from Ukraine with his mother.
He had been raised in a rural community, in a house with no hot water or electricity, and when Koum moved to the U.S. his mother packed their suitcases with school supplies to save money.
But Koum’s fortunes soon changed and on Wednesday he returned to the Mountain View welfare office, where he used to queue to get food stamps, to sign his historic deal with Facebook.
The offices for WhatsApp, which 37-year-old Koum created with Brian Acton in 2009, are also only a few blocks from the welfare office.
The pair stood outside the welfare building today as they signed the $19 billion deal with Facebook, only this time Koum was able to drive there in his Porsche.
Is there any recent story that so encapsulates the American Dream?