I like this very American story, I do indeed

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?

8 thoughts on “I like this very American story, I do indeed”

  1. No, that’s quite incredible. And well done to them both (from what I understand, it’s a small, lean little team).

    Now that it’s part of Facebook, anyone want to invest in a clone that’s not part of the Evil Facebook Empire? Need a couple of million in initial funding.

  2. I’m amazed at what people will hand over to these proprietary communications platforms that won’t talk to each other. Mrs Bloke has a smartphone with whateveritsapp, bloke uses the telephone and email, and is slowly cottoning on to the fact that the former is being supplanted by Skype and the like.

    I think I’d like as few potential channels of communication as possible, not as many as possible, all of which require attention. The proliferation of telephones, SIM cards from at least four countries, various email accounts (at least I’ve consolidated those now), and semi-functional web-conference suites is bad enough. I don’t want to have to think about maintaining multiple rival instnt msgng svcs. I’m not on Farcebook and I don’t twat.

    Maybe I am just getting old.

  3. California and the United States of America are very happy. They will get over half of what Koum earned. Koum will be worth $6 billion for half-an-hour.

  4. Bloke in Central Illinois

    Michael Jackson is the quintessential American success story.

    Only in America can a poor black boy, through sheer talent and hard work, turn himself into a rich white woman.

  5. Can you imagine the same thing in the UK?

    Bl**dy immigrant comes over ‘ere, claiming benefit ….

    (time passes)

    … Rich bastard! Inequality! Tax him until his pips squeak!

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