Jan Koum signs the $19 billion Facebook deal paperwork on the door of his old welfare office in Mountain View, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Jan Koum, from Forbes)

Jan Koum signs the $19 billion Facebook deal paperwork on the door of his old welfare office in Mountain View, Calif. (Photo courtesy of Jan Koum, from Forbes)

Facebook’s buyout of WhatsApp‘s has been all over the news, but more amazing than the $19 billion price tag is the story and lessons behind its founder Jan Koum’s rise from food stamps and high school dropout. Besides his determined upbringing, a few things stand out about Koum; a straightforward attitude, iron willpower, and a strong belief in the user’s experience (read: no marketing or ads bothering them) overall.

“You could tell he was a bit different,” recalls Acton. “He was very no-nonsense, like ‘What are your policies here; What are you doing here?’” Other Ernst & Young people were using “touchy-feely” tactics like gifting bottles of wine. “Whatever,” says Acton. “Let’s cut to the chase.”

. . .

By early 2011 WhatsApp was squarely in the top 20 of all apps in the U.S. App Store. During a dim sum lunch with staff, someone asked Koum why he wasn’t crowing to the press about it. “Marketing and press kicks up dust,” Koum replied. “It gets in your eye, and then you’re not focusing on the product.”

Get a huge dose of motivation by reading the entirety of his story (his immigration to America, parents’ death, and all of the other obstacles it took WhatsApp to just become what is is today) at Forbes.

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