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Ukrainian roots shine through at WhatsApp

20
Feb
2014

By Sarah McBride SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – WhatsApp grew up in Silicon Valley, but its founder’s background in Eastern Europe gave it its DNA. The messaging company bought by Facebook for $19 billion in a deal announced on Wednesday has become a global force, with 450 million customers who find it an easy way to send messages across borders and between different brands of mobile devices. Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jan Koum, 37, grew up mostly in the Ukraine, and moved to Mountain View, California, as a teenager, an immigrant path reminiscent of other Silicon Valley successes such as Max Levchin, the Ukrainian-born co-founder of Paypal, and Google’s Russian-born co-founder, Sergey Brin. Like technology titans Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, Koum dropped out of college, but in his case, it was San Jose State rather than Harvard.

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