indica News Bureau –
Once touted to be the CEO of Facebook-owned WhatsApp, Neeraj Arora has stepped down from his role as the company’s chief business officer.
The latest high-profile exit in WhatsApp comes shortly after co-founders Brian Acton and Jan Koum resigned, reportedly due to differences with parent company Facebook over encryption and user data protection.
“It is hard to believe that it has been seven years since Jan [Koum] and Brian [Acton] got me onboard at WhatsApp, and it has been one hell of a ride! 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,” Arora wrote in a Facebook post.
“I am confident that WhatsApp will continue to be a simple, secure and trusted communication product for years to come,” he added.
Formerly, a Google corporate development manager, Arora has been associated with WhatsApp since 2011, much before the app was sold to Facebook for $19 billion.
A TechCrunch article had described Arora as WhatsApp’s “employee number four.”
An alumnus of IIT Delhi and the Indian School of Business, Arora has helped WhatsApp’s user base grow in India during his seven-year stint. The app currently has over 200 million monthly active users in the country.
In 2012, he convinced Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications to bundle the unlimited use of WhatsApp with a $0.20 monthly data plan. He also got Tata Docomo to offer unlimited WhatsApp usage for a mere Rs 15 for 15 days, Quartz India reported.
Arora, who has worked earlier at Google, Paytm and Times Internet, didn’t reveal much about his future plans.
“I’m going to be taking some time off to recharge and spend time with family,” he said.
Arora’s exit comes even as WhatsApp struggles to curb the menace of misinformation on a global level. This year, WhatsApp deployed campaigns in top markets like India and Brazil to educate users and help them avoid sending false information, according to a CNBC report.
WhatsApp has roped in Ezetap founder Abhijit Bose as its first country head, and hired BBC’s Trushar Barot to tackle the rising fake news crisis in India.
In addition to the recent departure of top WhatsApp executives, in recent months Facebook has also lost Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger and Oculus co-founder Brendan Iribe. One of the most surprising exits was that of Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer.
Citing an internal survey at Facebook last month, the Wall Street Journal reported that just over half of Facebook employees (52 per cent) have said they were optimistic for the future of the social networking platform – down by 32 per cent last year.
Facebook also slipped in the rankings for the best places to work, according to Glassdoor – a website that lets employees rank their workplaces. Instead of number one, it is now seventh, just one step ahead of Google. Also, Facebook’s shares tumbled substantially this year after the social media network’s revenue and user growth fell short of investor expectations.