The guard is changing at WhatsApp, and it’s changing quickly.
After WhatsApp cofounder Brian Acton had left the company last year, followed by fellow co-founder Jan Koum in 2018, yet another high-profile WhatsApp executive has put in his papers. Neeraj Arora, who’d joined WhatsApp nearly seven years ago and become one of its earliest employees, has now quit the company.
“It is time to move on, but I cannot be more proud of how WhatsApp continues to touch people in so many different ways every day. I am confident that WhatsApp will continue to be the simple, secure & trusted communication product for years to come,” Arora wrote in his farewell post. “I’m going to be taking some time off to recharge and spend time with family. I am deeply indebted to Jan and Brian, who entrusted me to be their business companion for so many years,” he added.
Arora had grown from relative obscurity to become one of the best known Indian tech executives. He’d joined WhatsApp when it was just a small startup, but had seen it grow into the world’s most popular messaging app. In 2014, when WhatsApp had been acquired by Facebook for $21 billion, Arora had made his millions, but had chosen to stay on as WhatsApp grew in prominence under Facebook’s wing. Before joining WhatsApp, Arora had graduated with an engineering degree from IIT Delhi in 2000, and followed it up with an MBA from ISB in 2006. He’d then gone on to work for Google for three years.
But Arora’s exit will further fuel rumours around how WhatsApp executives are unhappy with the direction the company is taking as it is being run by Facebook. Brian Acton’s exit had been acrimonious at best — he’d publicly urged people to delete Facebook a few months after quitting. Jan Koum had made no such public proclamations, but reports had emerged that he’d left after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had been insisting on him adding ads to WhatsApp. Arora’s exit will mean that much of WhatsApp’s old guard has now left, months after the differences of its senior executives with Facebook become public. Their replacements are likely to be all Facebook-appointees, which will mean that Mark Zuckerberg will have a much freer rein over the company he’d paid $21 billion for. But for end users, it means that WhatsApp is going to become much more of a Facebook company in the days to come.