Jan Koum – From Living On Food Stamps To A Billionaire

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This is one amazing story proving that anything is possible in America. This is the amazing story of Jan Koum, who yesterday closed a $19 billion deal selling WhatsApp to the social networking giant Facebook. Jan, who just a few years ago was hardly making the ends meet, became one of the richest people in the world. He is believed to have around 45% of WhatsApp, which sets his net worth to $6.8 billion.

Who Jan Koum Is

Jan Koum was born in a small village in Ukrainne 37 years ago. Was the only child in the family. His father was working in the construction industry, building schools and hospitals. His mother was a house wife, who was taking care of the young Jan. The famili was not very well-fixed, they didn’t have hot water in the house and had constantly struggled to cover even basic living expenses. Even though they were not rich, Koum was a happy kid and liked the life he had. Money is not everything, and it was ever so for him.

The logo of WhatsApp

Koum lived in Ucraine till he was 16 years old. At that age he escaped to the USA, because of the anti-Semitic moods and the policy as a whole in his country. This was one of the main reasons for Sergey Brin to come in America, too. Google could have been a Russian company if some circumstances were different… Koum and his mother managed to get a small apartment in Mountain View with the help of the government.

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Life in the United Stated didn’t start easily for Koum. His mom worked as a babysitter, which was not the highest paid job. The young Jan worked as a part time cleaner to help with the bills. But destiny had prepared another bad surprise for the family. Soon, his mother was diagnosed with cancer and couldn’t work. They were lucky, that the government there had disability allowance program and the family lived off it. When he was 18, Koum found a new hobby – computers. He purchased some second hand books and began reading about programming, software and hardware. As so0on as he finished the book, he sold them back. His self education was improving and soon he joined a group of hackers called WOOWOO.

When he finished high school, he was accepted in the Saint Jose State University, but in less than a year he dropped out to dedicate his time to his new job in Yahoo. In year 2000, Koum lost his mother, who had been fighting cancer for the last several years. He was alone. That was the time when he and Brian Acton became friends. A friendship, that would later make them both billionaires. They worked in Yahoo for the next 9 years, but didn’t really enjoy their job. In 2007, they both left the company and indulged in having some free time.


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