The sale of WhatsApp to Facebook was one of the most notorious in history. Just like the one from Instagram or the recent one from Activision to Microsoft. But it seems that, looking back, it was not such a good idea. At least for one of those responsible for the application (and the sale to Facebook).
Neeraj Arora, the former Chief Business Officer (CBO) of WhatsApp and one of the great promoters of its sale to Facebook, he greatly regrets selling the company. In a post on LinkedIn he has explained the reasons, and the truth is that looking back, his reasons do not seem as far-fetched as they might seem at first glance.
The former CBO has been especially forceful with his regret regarding the sale, and incidentally, he has also told how the negotiation process between the two companies took place, always behind the scenes. The negotiations, in fact, began two years before the purchase was formalized.
Facebook has not fulfilled what it promised when it bought WhatsApp
According to Neeraj Arora, already in 2012 Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook approached WhatsApp, at that time the acquisition was rejected by the messaging service. However, in 2014 Facebook returned to the fray with WhatsAppand promised the service especially good conditions after the acquisition, including:
• Full support for end-to-end encryption.
• No ads (ever).
• Total independence in product decisions.
• Seat on the board for Jan Koum (CEO of WhatsApp at the time).
• Own office in Mountain View.
And WhatsApp imposed its own, perhaps the most important:
- Do not extract user data.
- No ads (ever).
- No cross-platform tracking.
It seems that at the time of formalizing the purchase, Facebook agreed to these conditions, but according to the former CBO of WhatsApp, once the purchase was formalized, this was never fulfilled. In 2018, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal broke out and another of the founders of WhatsApp, Brian Acton, also called for a boycott of the social network. That was just two years after the purchase was formalized.
And scandal after scandal, it has been what has led Neeraj Arora to regret the purchase and be especially critical of Facebook. These are their reasons:
“Today, WhatsApp is Facebook’s second largest platform (even larger 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’m not the only one who regrets that he became part of Facebook when he did. Tech companies need to admit when they’ve done something wrong.
No one knew at first that Facebook would become a Frankenstein monster, gobbling up user data and spitting out dirty money. Us neither.
For Silicon Valley to evolve, we need to talk about how perverse business models cause well-intentioned products, services and ideas to go awry.”
Neeraj Arora, in a post on LinkedIn.