WhatsApp, a mobile messaging application, has been the buzz for the last two days after Facebook acquired it for $19 billion. But did you know that India born Neeraj Arora, who is responsible for “all things business at WhatsApp”, played a key role in sealing the deal? And with Facebook’s promise of making no changes in the way WhatsApp functions, Arora will have to drive the integration of the business operations of the messaging platform with the social networking website.
Neeraj Arora, who is an IIT grad as well as a management graduate with a degree from the Indian School of Business, gave up his high profile job managing global M&A at Google to join one of Silicon Valley’s hottest starts-ups. And that the bet, for sure, seems to have paid off today.
Until November 2011, Arora served as the principal, corporate development, at Google and before that he was the chief manager at Times Internet Ltd.
“From Times Internet to Google to WhatsApp, Arora has had an uncanny ability to identify opportunities, ” Mohit Garg, co-founder of training software firm MindTickle and Arora’s batchmate at ISB was quoted as saying by The Economic Times. “He is well connected and this has helped him move up the ladder. He’s also very unassuming and down to earth.”
According to a report in The Hindustan Times, one of Arora’s major achievements in India was to convince Anil Ambani’s Reliance Communications to bundle unlimited use of WhatsApp with a Rs 16/month data plan. The scheme was an instant success.
In an interview with CNBC-TV18, last year,Arora said having crossed 25 billion users in India, the country is of critical importance to the company but at the same time was confident that a 55-member team at WhatsApp was enough to carry out sales and innovation. Even then Arora reassured users that the messaging app would steer clear from ads and endorsements like it has been doing so far. He hinted that a B2B play may be a possibility but nothing has been decided.Three months later, he maintains that nothing much will change at Whatsapp despite the Facebook acquisition.
“Nothing will change,” he replied on Thursday to a query by one of his followers on Twitter: “As a loyal WhatsApp user, I’m pretty sad it’s been sold to Facebook. Privacy is a key concern, another is unnecessary add-ons to the app. (sic)”.
Arora is also an investor in Pune-based MindTickle, a start-up that aims to usher in a sea-change in the employee training and engagement space. Two-year-old MindTickle provides a Cloud-based gamified and social learning platform that makes the training experience extremely engaging.
“Neeraj has a prolific background of business development across geographies and business models. He is an avid startup enthusiast and has a track record of helping tech ventures with mentorship, recruiting, financing, distributing products and BD,” says MindTickle on its website.