Facebook Rejected him but what happened next will shock you.

brian acton

Life can slap you with the most bizarre experiences.

Like your job application being rejected by Facebook even though you just left Yahoo! as the vice president of engineering.

That’s exactly what happened to Brian Acton. In 2009 (two years after leaving Yahoo!), Brian posted this on his twitter account.

brian acton whatsapp

Failing to snag a job at facebook was not the only setback Brian encountered in life.

He faced many others, including bouncing through several jobs after Yahoo! and losing millions of dollars in the dot com bubble.

But fortune always smiles on the brave.

Not deterred by his life experiences, that same year (2009) Brian and his long-time friend cum old yahoo colleague, Jon Koum, got together and developed an iphone app, which they called Whatsapp.  Based on the success of the iphone app, they expanded to other platforms like Android, BBM. Before 2014, Whatsapp had a whooping 250 million monthly users.

Tweet: Its hard to beat a person who never gives up http://ctt.ec/Fv2Ge+ #NeverGiveUp via @inspire2success
Ask any mobile app developer and they will tell you: those ain’t easy numbers to attain for a mobile app.


It was not just an app. It was a profitable app.

Even though whatsapp did not have any advertising, it made money in two ways. Iphone users were charged on first installation while android users were charged after the first year of free usage. The minimum charge was $0.99 per annum.

Let’s do the math: $0.99 x 250 million

that’s an approximate $247,500,000 per annum! I don’t know about you but that is a lot of change.

Whatsapp was so successful, it caught the attention of a roaming giant

Facebook contacted the co-founders of Whatsapp and made an offer they could not refuse. In 2014, Brian Acton and Jon Koum sold Whatsapp to the social media giant for an outstanding $19 billion in stocks and cash.

The same Facebook that rejected Brian Acton’s job application now gave him 20% stock of Facebook as part of the payment for the phone app.

if that isn’t jaw-dropping, I don’t know what is.

This true life story taught me two things:

1. That the road to success is paved with hard work, sacrifice and determination to prevail against the obstacles you will face. Every successful entrepreneur I know or have heard of, had a tale of woe to share. But they never allowed their setbacks kill their ambitions.

2. Its never too late to make it: Brian was pushing 40 when he got rejected by Facebook. Many individuals would have given up at that point and resigned to a mediocre life. But not Brian. He still believed he could make it, regardless of how old he was and what the losses he might have had.

If you learn just one thing it will be…

Never give up.

Keep trying.

Keep believing.

Keep working to realize your ambitions. And fortune will smile on you.

Have you had experiences like Brian’s? Share your story with us to keep us inspired 🙂

And if you enjoyed the article, share with your friends. They will thank you for it.

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23 thoughts on “Facebook Rejected him but what happened next will shock you.”

  1. Hi Chioma,

    Thanks for sharing Brian Acton’s story. It is truly an inspiration. Never give up!! There are so many times I too wanted to stop and do something else because of an emotional response to what I thought was going to happen.

    Now I’m over that. It is just an emotion and emotions are not facts. Instead, I keep pushing on, going forward with my business. Producing products every month. Some catch on and some don’t.

    But what is most important is being able to keep my eye on the “prize” i.e. each time something may not work out, I do it better. I’m in competition with myself and find it to be quite exciting.

    I always say to myself that old expression “If at first you don’t succeed, try try again” It what keeps me going.

    Donna Merrill recently posted…The Nature Of Your BlogMy Profile

    1. Hi Donna,

      Welcome to my blog. I am so happy you loved Brian’s story. It really is an inspiration.

      I am glad you pushed through the difficult, tough times in your life. Its an inspiration to many (as well as to me). Many times, certain setbacks can hit you so hard that all you want to do is quit, give up, run away and hide from the challenges. But one thing I have learned is that though those challenges may seem insurmountable, if you keep pushing, taking one step a time, you will walk through the storm.

      I have had such troubling and emotionally-charged moments myself but like you do, I never lose sight of the “prize”. Its the prize that makes me get up in the morning and find ways to tackle any stumbling blocks I face.

      Thanks so much for visiting my blog and sharing your experience, Donna. Your story added another drink of inspiration to my cup ;).

  2. Hi Chioma,

    Now that’s an impressive story but reading through this I immediately took Brian as the kind of guy who doesn’t roll over easily. I’m sure he also wasn’t terribly offended that he was rejected by Facebook but as he mentioned he of course would have loved to work for them.

    I like to see those types of things as opportunities although at the time, any type of rejection is never pleasant. But had they accepted him then he wouldn’t have gone on to greater things and as I’m sure he’s saying, “look at me now”. I have a feeling he’s nowhere near done either.

    It’s very impressive and what’s that saying? Most people give up right before the big break is coming. Yep, keep going and you just never know what your next step will be.

    Great share, I appreciate you telling us about Brian and encouraging us to never give up.

    Adrienne recently posted…Why You Are Never Too Old To BlogMy Profile

    1. Hi Adrienne,

      Welcome to my blog. I agree with you that Brian is a tough, go-getter who doesn’t roll over easily. I am awed by his ever-positive spirit and outlook on things. Instead of a rejection from Facebook sending him brawling into a corner, he used it to show he was hopeful of better things and interesting adventures.

      And he definitely got a better thing aka Whatsapp. If he had not been rejected by Facebook, it is safe to argue that he might never have come up with Whatsapp. In retrospect the rejection from Facebook was a good thing. It paved the way for his breakthrough.

      You are right about most people giving up right before their big break. Life is a puzzle and the only way to get to your destination is to keep trying, keep pushing ahead and never giving up no matter what is flung at you.

      Thanks for stopping by, Adrienne. Do have a splendid day.

  3. Hey Chioma,

    I remember reading about how facebook bought whatsapp last year but I never knew the story behind the cofounder Brian Action. That is a trip! The very people that didn’t hire him paid over $247Million plus 20% of stock on top of that. That’s amazing!

    One thing I learned from being rejected, especially when I was in network marketing, is to stay focus on the process and on the options that I do have in order to keep progressing forward. I think a lot of people get themselves stuck and start to have emotional problems because they focus on the wrong things. They limit themselves and heed their peers words more so than their own.

    If Brian can get rejected by facebook and then turn around and create a phone app making millions from the very company that rejected him, then that tells you right there that anything is possible. We should focus on what we have instead of more so on what we don’t have.

    Thanks for sharing Chioma! Have a great upcoming weekend!
    Sherman Smith recently posted…How To Make Blogging Less Time ConsumingMy Profile

    1. Hi Sherman,

      I do agree that it really is amazing to own 20% of a company that initially rejected your offer to work for them. Its a complete turnaround of events that left me awe-struck and showed me that anything is possible, if one focuses on their destination.

      And you are completely right about people getting themselves in all the wrong places simply because they lack focus. A lack of focus can lead to insecurity, inferiority complex and a host of other problems which make them begin to limit themselves and listen to their peers instead, in this way turning into cheap carbon copies of someone else.

      You do make a valid point when you say that we should focus on what we have instead of what we don’t have.

      Thanks so much Sherman for dropping another exceptional comment on my blog. I really do enjoy your visits. Do have a nice weekend too.

  4. That was a wonderful story. I have to admit that I don’t know what Whatsapp is, and I’d never heard of this guy before. But I love stories where people recover from bad things to do great things and, in their own way, throw it back in the face of someone who felt they weren’t “good enough”. Yeah, I’m like that. 🙂

    Yeah, I know companies can’t accept everyone and that it’s not usually personal. Still, I’m really proud of this guy for what he was able to do. It’s a great lesson for us all.
    Mitch Mitchell recently posted…5 Things You Should Do Before Commenting On A BlogMy Profile

    1. Hi Mitch,

      You are not the only one that loves proving you are better than “good enough”. I do have moments like that too. That’s one of the reasons I loved Brian’s story: Because after getting a rejection, he was able to make his rejectors see their loss.

      Reading his story, I am glad Facebook rejected him though. Because if they did not, he might never have sat down and become instrumental in the creation of Whatsapp. Sometimes, when we get really terrible rejections in life or when bad stuff happens to us, we should understand that something better is on the way. An analogy I normally use to illustrate this is: before an arrow can go forward and hit its target, It must be pulled backwards to gain momentum.

      Thanks so much for dropping by Mitch. Do have a lovely day.

    1. Hi Mobashhir,

      Yes, Brian’s story really is inspiring, especially for entrepreneurs. Some times the path to self-actualization and fulfillment can be so dark and filled with many obstacles. It’s real life stories like Brian’s that gives hope that there will be light at the end of those dark tunnels. Like you said, “More pain, more gain.”

      Glad you enjoyed the article. And thanks for stopping by 🙂

  5. Hi Chioma
    It is indeed a great joy to be here,
    I am here today via your AhaNOW profile page. 🙂
    Nice to be here, You have a wonderful and
    pleasant looking page,
    About this story, though I heard about this person
    i was not read about his past experience with facebook etc.
    This is indeed a motivating life story which you shared and
    motivated your followers here,
    Thanks for sharing this in detail!
    Yes, never give up!
    That is the key word here
    May you have a great rest of the week
    Keep sharing
    Best Regards
    ~ Phil

    1. Hi Phil,

      It’s such a joy to meet you here. Thank you for your kind words. When I saw your profile on AhaNow and the way you interacted with other members, I knew I wanted you to be a friend 🙂

      Brian Acton is an inspiration. I agree with you that the key message in his story is to never give up, no matter what life throws at you.

      Thanks for visiting my blog and I hope you do have a great weekend.

  6. Hey Chioma,

    I am really inspired by this post you dropped here. To be candid with you, on several occasions, when I am faced with job-related challenges, I feel like the best option is for me to quit them and move elsewhere. But at such times, Robert Schuller’s famous quote, “Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do!” keeps me going.

    Sincerely speaking, this piece you dropped here about Brian Acton gave rise to new source of inspiration in me – because I have recently been doubting the possibility of myself succeeding online.

    Once again, keep up the good work you’ve started, Chioma.
    Emmanuel E. Sulai recently posted…Top 15 Bloggers That Make Extra Money Online – SEE HOWMy Profile

    1. Hi Emmanuel,

      I am glad you enjoyed my post and I am delighted that it inspired you and boosted your morale. Yes “Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do.”
      Succeeding online is a tough business, but you can do it if you are dedicated and continue learning. Nothing in life is easy. To help you, I will recommend you read this post: http://www.aha-now.com/blogging-basics-beginners-bloggers/ by Harleena. It will expose a lot that will help your online career.

      Thanks for your kind words and I wish you the best of luck, Emmanuel.

  7. Hey Chioma,
    This reminds me of a post I made a few weeks back on how I turned rejection into a $68 recurring income and this figure grows month after month.

    In every rejection, there is a step forward. If you take a NO for a no, you remain broke. If you take a NO for New Opportunities, you will be fueled for more success.

    This inspires me to write another blog post 😉
    Enstine Muki recently posted…I fired my ‘BOSS’!My Profile

    1. Hi Enstine,

      I read that post and it really inspired me too. Your acronym that ‘NO’ stands for ‘New Opportunities’ is spot on. I have personally experienced this myself and learned how to look for ways to improve and grow from rejections. The funny thing about life is that when you maximize on the NOs you receive and turn them into New Opportunities, the rejections you receive decrease and you start experiencing more success.

      Thanks so much for stopping by. You are an inspiration to me and I can’t wait to read your next post 🙂

  8. Very interesting post. I heard last year about Facebook acquisition Whatsapp, but don’t really know fully story behind the success of that App creator.

    I have the philosophy of not settle sown for the 2nd bets, while their are several ways have been rejected in life, but this post inspiring me more that the road path is not easy but you will get their with dedication,hardworking and last have a clear goal of an achieve in life.

    A big Kudos to you on this post.
    Olayinka recently posted…Pinterest Secret: Steps on How to Get Your First 1000 Followers on PinterestMy Profile

    1. Hi Olayinka,

      Welcome to my blog. Thanks for your kind words. When I heard the behind-the-scenes story of Whatsapp, I was shocked, inspired and happy all at once. I knew immediately that many people would love to know this story as it would inspire them too.

      I agree with you that life can be tough but that one should never settle for scraps. With dedication, hard-word and focus, one’s fortune can turn around.

      Thanks for stopping by. Hope to see you again.

  9. Hi Chioma,

    Awesome article, indeed!

    Associated with Whatsapp, I only know Jon Koum. It was the first time I heard about Brian Acton. I have read the life story of Jon Koum and it was very inspiring. 🙂

    I never had the idea that Brian Acton has a life story that is almost the same with Jon. And of course, very inspiring. 😉

    I have some stories that are similar, but it’s still on a small scale. But, it has made me proud and do not want to give up reach my dreams. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this with us, Chioma.
    Have a great beginning of this week!

    Nanda Rahmanius recently posted…THANKS To My Comment Authors ~ June 2015 Engagement Report!My Profile

    1. Hi Nanda,

      Welcome to my blog. I recall I felt exactly the same way you felt when I heard about Brian Acton. Prior to that I did not even know about him nor did I know he was connected to Whatsapp. I learnt about him from BusinessInsider and I was inspired. A while later, when I wanted to write a post that will inspire and motivate my readers, he was the first name that came to my head. I knew immediately that my post will be about him, so I did a little more digging and found out even more about him.

      I am glad Brian’s story motivates you to never give up on your dreams. That was my intention when writing this post. Please hold onto your dreams. The world needs you to fulfill it 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Nanda. Do have a splendid new week too.

    1. Hi Albin,

      Welcome to my blog. I really am impressed by your true life story. I do enjoy hearing about normal day people who despite the setbacks and rejections they faced, still became successful. Kudos to you and keep up the good work. The world needs more achievers like you.

      I have had similar experiences too but overcame them because I refused to give up. My mantra is Never Give Up.

      Thanks for visiting my blog. Do have a splendid day 🙂

  10. Hi Chioma,
    It is really an Inspiring story of Brian Acton.
    This story tells us one thing “Never Give Up”.
    It is very interesting to know that the same facebook which rejected him to appoint buy his application for $19 Billion.
    Whatsapp is now most used mobile application for chatting. The Easy access and fast response of this application make it different from other application.

    Most of people get failure in their life and after some time they give up. Those who are determined and dedicated to their work will be successful one day if they never give up.
    Thanks again for such a brilliant story.

    With regards,
    Saurav Kumar Nayak recently posted…44 Impressive Ways You Can Use Social Media to Grow Your Business OvernightMy Profile

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