WhatsApp Chief Executive Officer Jan Koum, whose mobile-messaging company was acquired by Facebook for $22 billion this year, confronted a dicey past as he joined the Facebook board as the third-largest shareholder. Koum apologized for actions that resulted in a 1996 restraining order for verbal and physical threats against his ex-girlfriend, along with changing her school records to prevent her from attending classes.
WhatsApp Messenger is a Silicon Valley company that was founded in 2009 by Brian Acton and Jan Koum. As a proprietary cross-platform messaging service for smartphones, WhatsApp uses voice- and data-over-Internet protocol. In addition to text instant messaging, users can send images, video and audio messages, as well as their location using the mapping features.
The 38-year-old Koum now has a net worth of $6.8 billion, according to Business Insider.
Koum said that what happened 18 years ago doesn’t reflect who he is today.
In February of 1996, the California Superior Court in San Jose issued a restraining order against Koum after his ex-girlfriend filed a civil harassment claim alleging multiple incidents of verbally and physical threats, according to the court docket.
“I feel I was irrational and behaved badly after we broke up,” Koum offered in a public apology on Monday. “I am ashamed of the way I acted, and ashamed that my behavior forced her to take legal action. I am deeply sorry for what I did.”
Facebook’s spokesman said: “Jan has written a thoughtful and honest response that we believe demonstrates the sincerity of his remorse over what happened nearly two decades ago.” The woman couldn’t be reached for comment and her mother, when reached by phone and in person, declined to comment, according to SiliconValley.com.
Under California Code – Section 527.6, civil harassment restraining orders are granted by a court upon request after a “pattern of conduct composed of a series of acts over a period of time,” including stalking, making harassing telephone calls, sending harassing correspondence and/or threatening violence. The court decides whether a person needs a protection order and for what period after evidence is presented.
Koum reflectively said, “Over the years, I have thought a lot about that difficult period of my life.” He added, “I have many regrets and things I wish I could go back and change, but I have also worked hard and tried to improve myself.”
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