Wael Ghonim, Egypt’s face of the revolution that ousted former President Hosni Mubarak, announced over the weekend that he was leaving Google in order to form an NGO to fight poverty and foster education in the country.
On Saturday, he wrote on his Twitter page that he would take a “long-term sabbatical” to form “a technology-focused NGO to help fight poverty & foster education” in Egypt.
His move comes as TIME magazine listed him as one of the most influential people in the world after his role in the Egyptian revolution on February 11.
Although Ghonim helped establish a Facebook page that assisted in the initial mobilization of the masses to the streets on January 25, he was not a direct player in the protest movement, but his 12 days of imprisonment during the revolution helped re-ignite what had become stalled action against the government.
Most western media outlets have given him credit as the “mastermind” behind the revolution.
Israah Abdel Fataah, an activist and leading protester during the movement, told the Wall Street Journal that she was surprised by his move.
“I wouldn’t imagine that he would leave this career for a small NGO in Egypt. It’s Google, it’s not like any Egyptian company,” said Abdel Fataah. “So it’s hard to believe, but if he wants to do this for Egypt, it’s great.”
Mr. Ghonim has, for the most part, avoided media appearances since his release in early February, preferring instead of post his opinions and whereabouts on Facebook and Twitter. He has not responded to requests for an interview and remains largely out of the public’s eye.
By Desmond Shephard