- Former WhatsApp exec Neeraj Arora says he regrets that Facebook bought the startup.
- WhatsApp insiders have long bemoaned the sale, which they say saw the startup's mission unravel.
- WhatsApp execs never wanted ads on the platform or for users' data to be mined.
WhatsApp's early execs have been vocal for years about their disdain for Facebook and what the company did to their startup.
And on Thursday, WhatsApp's former chief business officer weighed in.
Neeraj Arora joined the startup in 2011 and said on Twitter that he "helped negotiate the $22 billion sale to Facebook. Today, I regret it."
—neeraj arora (@neerajarora) May 4, 2022
The story is well-known that Facebook approached WhatsApp with an offer that Arora said looked like a partnership. One of those promises was WhatsApp leadership would retain "complete independence on product decisions." Others were that Mark Zuckerberg's company would never integrate ads and cross-platform tracking on the app and that it wouldn't mine user data.
"FB and their management agreed and we thought they believed in our mission," Arora said.
But Facebook, WhatsApp execs have said, had other plans.
Facebook considered introducing ads to WhatsApp and letting businesses communicate with the app's users, Co-founder Brian Acton told Forbes in 2018 shortly after he left. The app does not have ads today.
"Today, WhatsApp is Facebook's second largest platform (even bigger than Instagram or FB Messenger,)" Arora tweeted. "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."
Arora, who has cofounded a relatively new ad-free social platform called HalloApp, said tech companies need to take accountability when their products and services go awry.
"Nobody knew in the beginning that Facebook would become a Frankenstein monster that devoured user data and spat out dirty money," Arora tweeted.
Arora left WhatsApp in 2018 shortly after Acton departed the company. Acton famously kicked off a #deletefacebook campaign on Twitter after Facebook's handling of user data amid the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light.
"It is time," Acton said in an early 2018 tweet, adding the hashtag #DeleteFacebook.
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