- WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton is currently the 76 th richest person in America, with a net worth of nearly $7 billion.
- Acton recently invested $50 million of his own money into the Signal app.
- Rather than spending lavishly, the tech billionaire seems to focus on investing and philanthropy.
Brian Acton, co-founder of WhatsApp, has always known how to make strides in Silicon Valley.
Most recently, he injected $50 million of his own money into encrypted chat app Signal, helping launch the Signal Foundation.
But to the 76th richest person in America, that amount barely makes a dent in the bank account. Acton has a net worth of $6.9 billion, according to Forbes.
That’s a long ways away from his Yahoo days.
Acton and his WhatsApp co-founder, Jan Koum, started the company after leaving Yahoo, and it has since become one of the most popular mobile messaging apps in the world. In 2014, WhatsApp was acquired by Facebook for $22 billion – and Acton received about $3 billion from the sale.
Acton keeps a low profile in Silicon Valley. While not much is known about how he spends his money in his personal life, it is clear that the Stanford alum has a penchant for investments and philanthropy.
Scroll through to see how he shares his billions.
Acton’s net worth has more than doubled in the past four years, increasing from $3 billion in March 2014 to $6.7 billion in March 2018.
In February 2014, Facebook made a deal to acquire WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash and stock. By the time it was acquired the following October, that number rose to $22 billion. Acton owned 22% of the company at the time of the sale.
- Phil Noble/Reuters
It was a major payday for Acton, who received roughly $3 billion for his stake in WhatsApp, with almost 38 million shares of Facebook and $1 billion in cash. He also collected about 10 million shares of Facebook in the form of restricted stock units.
Following Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp, Acton donated Facebook shares worth nearly $290 million to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, who helped him start three philanthropic entities.
- Shutterstock / Alexey Ulashchick
In the likes of Zuckerberg and other Silicon Valley VIPs, Acton lives in Palo Alto, California. This small town boasts a real estate price tag bigger than its population — the median home value is $3,084,500.
Acton’s foray into philanthropy began with Sunlight Giving, which he launched in 2014 with his wife, Tegan Acton. It supports the basic needs of low-income families with children age five and below in the Bay Area, including support for safe spaces and organizations that provide food security, family support resources, housing stability, and health care access. With $470 million in assets, it grants more and more money each year — $6.4 million in 2015, $19.2 million in 2016, and $23.6 million in 2017.
- Benny Marty/Shutterstock
Around the same time, Acton also launched Family Giving, a donor-advised fund at Fidelity Charitable, which supports initiatives with a close connection to Acton and his family such as building empathy in society. Current initiatives include supporting first-person storytelling and promoting compassion for vulnerable animals throughout the world.
- Shutterstock / Lena Ivanova
Source: Acton Family Giving
Ever the tech man at heart, in 2016 Acton led a funding round in Gurgaon-based startup Trak N Tell, a car tracking telematics solution company. Along with two other investors, he reportedly raked in nearly $3.5 million in the startup.
Source: Business Insider India
In 2017, the Actons launched Solidarity Giving, another donor-advised fund at Fidelity Charitable, which focuses on human and civil rights. It commits about $10 million a year to its partners, which have included the ACLU Foundation, Anti-Defamation League, Planned Parenthood, and The Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
- Jason Kempin / Getty
Source: Solidarity Giving
In September 2017, Acton further spread his wings, revealing he planned to leave WhatsApp to start his own foundation. “I’ve decided to start a nonprofit focused at the intersection of nonprofit, technology, and communications,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
The following February, Acton invested $50 million in the newly formed Signal Foundation, a nonprofit that will maintain the Signal app as well as other potential privacy-focused apps in the future. He’s joining the foundation as executive chairman.