Brian Acton

Brian Acton – Biography of Signal and WhatsApp’s Co-founder

This post is about the co-founder of WhatsApp and Signal Foundation, Brian Acton.


  • Born in Michigan, USA, on February 17, 1972
  • Net worth of $2.5 billion
  • Alumni of the University of Pennsylvania, USA

Read as we explore the biography of Brian Acton: Educational background, personal life, and career.

Who Is Brian Acton?

Brian Acton is a computer programmer and entrepreneur born in Michigan, US. He is renowned for co-founding WhatsApp Messenger with Jan Koum in 2009 and Signal Technology Foundation with Moxie Marlinspike in 2018.

WhatsApp is an instant messaging app, while Signal Foundation is a not-for-profit organization created to develop open-source privacy technology.

Personal Life (Early/recent)

Brian Acton was brought up in Michigan but subsequently moved to Central Florida. He attended Lake Howell High School in Florida, USA. Afterward, he furthered his education at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania.

His engineering studies at the University of Pennsylvania were on a fully funded scholarship. After his year of study, he withdrew to study at Stanford University for a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science, which he completed in 1994.

Brian Acton lives with his wife, Tegan Acton, and family in Palo Alto, CA. His current net worth is approximately $2.5 billion. Forbes (2020) reported that he is the world’s 836th richest person.

Brian Acton 1

Career – From Being a Co-founder of Facebook to Becoming Signal’s SEO

Brian Acton’s career started in 1992 at Rockwell International, where he worked as a systems administrator. He later worked at Apple Inc and Adobe Systems as a product tester.

Brian joined Yahoo Inc in 1996. He invested millions of dollars in the dot-com bubble of 2000 and lost it all.

In September 2007, Acton left Yahoo alongside Jan Koum, a colleague hired as an infrastructure engineer. He and Koum began touring South America and playing Ultimate Frisbee. They also submitted job applications to Facebook but were unsuccessful.

Brian and Koum co-founded WhatsApp Inc in January 2009, after Koum bought an iPhone and discovered that its recently launched App Store has a good number of apps. He thought of developing an app and called it WhatsApp. He derived the name from the phrases “what’s up” and “app.”

In 2014, Jan Koum and Brian Acton sold WhatsApp to Facebook for about $19 billion in cash and stock.

Brian Acton 2

According to Forbes, Brian had over 20% stake in WhatsApp, making his net worth approximately $3.8 billion.

In September 2017, Brian Acton left WhatsApp to establish a foundation named Signal Technology Foundation. Signal is an encrypted messaging app that facilitates private communication.

Sometime in 2018, Acton gave an interest-free loan of $50 million to Signal. Within that year, the loan amount rose to $105,000,400 and was due for repayment on February 28, 2068.

As of now, Brian Acton is one of the five board members of Signal Foundation.

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