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The IIT-Delhi grad who helped build WhatsApp in India has quit

A WhatsApp-Reliance Jio representative displays key chains with the logo of WhatsApp for distribution during a drive by the two companies to educate users, on the outskirts of Kolkata
Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri
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  • Ananya Bhattacharya
By Ananya Bhattacharya

Tech reporter

Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Once touted to be its CEO, WhatsApp’s “business guy” Neeraj Arora has quit.

In a Facebook post today (Nov. 27), Arora, WhatsApp’s chief business officer, announced his departure from the world’s largest messaging service. He joined WhatsApp back in 2011, before it got acquired by social media behemoth Facebook in 2014 for $19 billion.

“I’m going to be taking some time off to recharge and spend time with family,” he said, without sharing his future professional plans.

“WhatsApp is grateful for the dedication, focus, and outstanding work of our early leaders and team,” a company spokesperson told Quartz in a statement.

Arora has been credited with helping 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, Arora convinced Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications to bundle the unlimited use of WhatsApp with a Rs16 ($0.20) monthly data plan. He also got Tata Docomo to offer unlimited WhatsApp usage for a mere Rs15 for 15 days.

The Indian Institute of Technology(IIT) Delhi graduate, who also holds an MBA from the Indian School of Business (ISB), had earlier worked with Google for four years, overlooking acquisitions and strategic investments across products and geographies as part of the corporate development team.

He was also on the board of India’s largest digital payments firm, Paytm, from June 2015 to February 2018.

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Arora’s exit comes nearly seven months after co-founder Jan Koum resigned owing to differences with Facebook over encryption and user data protection. Arora came into the limelight as a frontrunner for the CEO position at the time. However, in May, WhatsApp appointed Chris Daniels instead.

Brian Acton, who started WhatsApp with Koum in 2009, had already quit the company to start his own non-profit organisation.

Meanwhile, in India, WhatsApp roped in Ezetap founder Abhijit Bose as its first country head–likely to dive into payments—and it hired BBC’s Trushar Bharot to tackle India’s spiralling fake news crisis.

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