Jan Koum Biography & Net Worth


Jan Koum Biography & Net Worth

Popular Name: Jan Koum
Real Name: Jan Koum
Birth Date: February 24, 1976
Birth Place:
Kyiv, Ukraine
Age: 45
Gender: Male
Nationality/Citizenship: Ukrainian, American
Height: N/A
Weight: N/A
Sexuality: Straight
Marital Status: Single
Children: N/A
Profession: Businessman, Investor, Entrepreneur
Years active: N/A
Net Worth: $12 Billion
Last Updated: 2021

Born and brought up in Kyiv, Ukraine, Jan Koum is an American internet entrepreneur who happens to be one of the founders of the instant messaging application WhatsApp. The extremely popular mobile application was bought by Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook in 2014 for the sum of $19 billion. A billionaire today, Jan is counted as one of the richest people in the United States, but only a few years ago he was poor to the extent that he managed to survive by living off food stamps. Born into a modest family in Ukraine, he entered the United States with his mother and grandmother during his teens. His early years in a new land were very difficult, and his family struggled to put things together. Their situation went from bad to worse when his mother got diagnosed with cancer and unfortunately passed away. A spirited young man, Jan Koum worked his way up in life and later got a job with Yahoo! as an infrastructure engineer during his college days. He formed a rapport with fellow Yahoo! Employee Brian Acton, with whom he would establish a long-term collaboration in the future. After working at Yahoo! for a number of years, both Jan and Brian left the job to pursue newer avenues in social media. Their love for social media eventually led the two resilient men to create WhatsApp as a mobile instant messaging application which eventually became the most popular instant messaging platform in the whole world.

Early Life: Childhood & Education

He was born in Kyiv, Ukraine on February 24, 1976, to Jewish parents as their only child. He lived a modest life in a town that was disrupted by the problematic political environment and confusion in the country. To escape the uncomplimentary situations in their native land, Jan’s family decided to migrate to America in 1992, without his father who planned to join him, his mother, and grandmother later. However, his father got sick and couldn’t make it to the United States. He died in 1997.

Jan was 16 years old at the time of the immigration. He faced considerable challenges in blending in a new country. His mother took care of other children to earn money while he himself worked as a cleaner at a grocery store. It was during his time in high school that he became interested in programming, and found out that he had an innate knack for it. By the time he finished his schooling at 18 years of age, he was a skilled self-taught computer engineer. He advanced to the San Jose State University for his tertiary education and took up jobs with companies like Ernst & Young as a security tester to afford his tuition.

Professional Life: Entrepreneurial Career

On his job at Ernst & Young, Jan Kuom was allotted to the then-new search engine Yahoo! to examine security levels at the firm’s advertising system. While working on this, he befriended one of Yahoo!’s earliest employees, Brian Acton. The two men shared lots of undeniable similarities and struck up a rapport as both of them shared a similar no-nonsense tactic to working. After a few months, Jan joined Yahoo! as an infrastructure engineer, while still studying at San Jose State University. A few days after joining the company suffered a systems’ breakdown, and Jan—who was attending a lecture at that time—was called to help with the problem straight away. At this juncture, he discerned that he would have to pick either Yahoo! or his studies at school, and he chose the former.

Jan Koum and Brian Acton worked together for nine whole years at Yahoo!. During this time they became good friends and also realized their shared interest in the fast-rising social media industry. However, Yahoo! did not give them any chance to explore social media, so they abandoned their jobs in 2007 to pursue other things. Both Jan and Brian took a year off and visited South America. On their return to the United States, both of them applied for jobs at Twitter and Facebook individually, and both were turned down by both companies.

Jan Koum Net Worth
WhatsApp Co-Founder, Jan Koum

Jan bought a new iPhone in 2009. On visiting the first App Stores to open, he got an idea for a messaging application for low-cost communication. Excited with the idea, he discussed it with his best friend Brian Acton and the two brilliant men started their new company called WhatsApp Inc. They incorporated this company on Jan’s birthday, February 24, 2009. They launched WhatsApp Messenger at the start of 2010. The early messenger would not stop crashing, and the creators faced many challenges in promoting their app. Frustrated after a few months of trying, Jan was on the brink of giving up when Brain encouraged him to give one more try.

There were not many instant messengers at that time, and progressively WhatsApp became widespread. The rising popularity of the mobile application enabled its founders to obtain additional venture capital. The user base of WhatsApp increased steadily over the months and by 2013, it had about 200 million active users. The rising popularity of WhatsApp caught the attention of the social media company Facebook which paid $19 million to buy WhatsApp in 2014. By 2016, WhatsApp became the world’s most popular messaging app with a user base of one billion.


Jan Koum’s familiarity of starting from the bottom and building steadily to the top of the ladder enshrined in him the need of giving back. His charity work focuses on giving to different communities as well as providing support to technological development. In 2014, he donated more than $556 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. From 2014 to 2016, he gifted around $1.5 million to The FreeBSD Foundation. He also donated another $250,000 to The FreeBSD Foundation between 2018 and 2019.

Achievements: Awards & Honors

Jan Koum and his best friend Brian Acton were the runners-up at the Crunchies Awards in 2015 as the “Founder of the Year”.

His major work, for which he is most renowned and appreciated, is his contribution to the founding and release of the WhatsApp Messenger back in 2010. The instant messaging client for mobile phones became the most popular messaging app in 2016, and is now available on all internet-enabled devices, including web and PC.

Personal Life: Relationships, Private Interests

Jan lost his beloved mother to cancer in 2000.

He has never been married, and also doesn’t have any children. In 1996, a restraining order was granted against him in state court in San Jose after he was accused of threatening an ex-girlfriend. He has since expressed his regret for having acted that way.

Jan Koum Net Worth: Salary, Income Sources, Assets, Real Estate, Cars

When Jan immigrated to the United States in 1992, he had just one thing on his mind – to escape from the chaotic environment in his native land and find greener pastures in a new country. But little did he know that fate had much more in store for him and his family. Jan Koum’s net worth is $12 billion today. The internet entrepreneur made a bulk of his wealth from the sales of WhatsApp Inc., a popular messaging service which he co-founded along with Brian Acton in 2010 and sold in 2014 for $19 billion in cash and stock.

Jan Koum has come a long way from his days of poverty to his current time as a billionaire. From living in a poor house in Ukraine to owning multiple luxurious properties in the United States, Jan’s story will surely inspire anybody. Today, he owns about $450 million worth of real estate in California. He owns a $100 million compound in Atherton town in Northern California. Down in Malibu, he owns approximately $200 million worth of real estate. In 2019, Jan paid $100 million for a home above Malibu’s Escondido beach. The seller of this property was entertainment executive Ron Meyer. In February 2021, Jan bought the home next door for $87 million. He bought Jeffrey Katzenberg’s Beverly Hills house for $125 million in September 2020. Jan’s multimillion-dollar compound in Atherton town includes a garage that spans 929 square meters. He is an avid car collector, and this property is convenient enough to house his extensive car collections. His garage is lined up with a Ferrari F12tdf, a Ferrari F12berlinetta, and many more decent Ferraris new and old. He still owns his first Atherton home, an abode he bought in 2015 for $8.8 million, and an adjoining warehouse where he keeps other models in his car collection.

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