Former WhatsApp chief business officer Neeraj Arora says that he regrets the $22 billion sale of WhatsApp to Facebook. In a series of tweets, he explained how WhatsApp has veered off the course that the founders had imagined for the service after the acquisition by the Mark Zuckerberg-led conglomerate.
According to Arora, the founding team of WhatsApp had made three key demands about the future of the service at the time of the acquisition: No mining user data, No ads and no cross-platform tracking. Arora spoke about how the business model of WhatsApp was supposed to be a $1 annual fee for unlimited usage of the service. These demands were accepted at the time.
According to him, Facebook had initially approached WhatsApp for an acquisition in 2014, making it look like a partnership by offering full support for end-to-end encryption, having no advertisements on the platform, complete independence on product decisions, a board seat for Jan Koum and their own office in Mountain View. Facebook also agreed to bringing end-to-end encryption to the platform.
Arora claims that WhatsApp was heading in thatdirection until 2018 when he and co-founder Jan Koum had left WhatsApp. Brain Acton, another cofounder, had left WhatsApp in 2017, reportedly over strained ties with Zuckerberg. This was also around the time when the Cambridge Analytica scandal broke. In the tweets, Arora points out how Brian Acton had tweeted, “Delete Facebook,” at the time.
In 2014, I was the Chief Business Officer of WhatsApp.
And I helped negotiate the $22 billion sale to Facebook.
Today, I regret it.
Here’s where things went wrong:
— neeraj arora (@neerajarora) May 4, 2022
“Today, WhatsApp is Facebook’s second-largest platform (even bigger than Instagram or FB Messenger). But it’s a shadow of the product we poured our hearts into, and wanted to build for the world. And I am not the only one who regrets that it became part of Facebook when it did,” wrote Acton in one of the tweets.
“Tech companies need to admit when they have done wrong. Nobody knew in the beginning that Facebook would become a Frankenstein monster that devoured user data and spat out dirty money. We didn’t either,” added Arora.
Arora ended the Twitter thread with a link to a WSJ article about HalloApp, a company he founded, and how such apps founded by former WhatsApp and Facebook executives and how they are taking aim at legacy social media companies.