48. Jan Koum


A billion peo­ple each day use What­sapp, the mes­sag­ing ser­vice Koum co­founded in 2009 with Brian Ac­ton (No. 76). Face­book bought What­sapp for $22 billion in stock and cash in 2014, turn­ing Koum into a bil­lion­aire overnight. Koum and his mother im­mi­grated to Cal­i­for­nia from Ukraine when he was 16. His mom brought pens and Soviet-is­sued note­books in her suit­case to avoid pay­ing for school sup­plies for Koum, who got kicked out of his Amer­i­can high school and had to at­tend an al­ter­na­tive pro­gram. He had taught him­self com­puter net­work­ing by the age of 18 and en­rolled in San Jose State be­fore drop­ping out to work at Ya­hoo, where Ac­ton worked.

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