Jan Koum left WhatsApp last week. Now we know who’s taking over.

Just one week after WhatsApp CEO and co-founder Jan Koum said he was leaving the company, Facebook announced his replacement: Chris Daniels will take over as the new VP of WhatsApp. He’s the Facebook product executive who has been running Internet.org, the company’s effort to bring free internet services to the masses.

Daniels has been with Facebook for more than seven years, and while he hasn’t worked on WhatsApp previously, the kind of stuff he has worked on has a lot of relevance.

With Daniels, Facebook gets an exec with lots of experience working internationally, especially in areas where wireless infrastructure is poor. Reliability has been WhatsApp’s calling card since its founding, and it’s one of the reasons that WhatsApp has stayed so simple for so long. (Though its feature list has grown considerably over the past two years.)

That experience will be key for running WhatsApp, which is still sorting out its business model almost four years after Facebook acquired the company for around $19 billion. (Koum famously promised to keep WhatsApp ad-free, though the app is now owned by one of the world’s biggest advertising companies.) WhatsApp’s largest markets are Brazil and India, and many of its new business efforts are focused on international markets.

Internet.org has been an interesting though often forgotten project under Facebook’s widening umbrella. The organization’s goal — to “bring internet access and the benefits of connectivity to the portion of the world that doesn‘t have them” — is in line with Facebook’s effort to connect everyone online.

The key product from Internet.org is an app called free-basics, which gives people in emerging markets access to free web services, like news sites or employment services, without requiring a mobile data plan. Facebook partners with global carriers to do this, and the carriers hope that providing a taste of the internet for free will ultimately encourage more people to become paying customers.

For Facebook, it’s a chance to get people online in the hope they’ll start using the social network.

Despite being live in more than 60 countries around the world, Internet.org generated the most attention back in late 2015 after it tried and failed to launch in India. Indian regulators rejected the service because they feared it violated the idea of net neutrality.

In his new role, Daniels will report to Facebook Chief Product Officer Chris Cox. Daniels’s new job is just one of many new roles handed out at the company this week, where Facebook underwent what was arguably its largest organizational restructure in history.

Recode – All Go to Source
Author:

Kurt Wagner

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