WhatsApp chief business officer Neeraj Arora has announced that he is parting ways with Facebook, and thus with WhatsApp. The two companies tied up in 2014, with Facebook buying out WhatsApp. Arora says that he wants to spend more time with his family, and will be taking some time away from the tech scene to do so. His plans beyond that were not announced. In his latest communication, he expressed excitement about the future of WhatsApp and his personal thankfulness for being entrusted with its business operations.
Background: Arora's exit without any real indication of an exit plan besides taking some time off may ring suspicious to some, and not without reason. Facebook and WhatsApp executives have reportedly been clashing over a number of topics regarding how WhatsApp is run and how it fits into the Facebook family for some time now. Earlier this year, both founders of WhatsApp, Jan Koum and Brian Acton, left the company that they had created behind. Koum cited mounting privacy concerns as his reason for leaving, a subject that has been a serious thorn in Facebook's side lately. Acton, meanwhile, published accounts of bitter spats with Facebook when he made his exit. It's entirely likely that there was and is no shortage of internal turmoil between Facebook and WhatsApp. While Arora did not state that this turmoil played a part in his decision to leave, it's not a big logical leap to think that his high ranking in what was left of the WhatsApp team after Koum and Acton departed left him with much of the pressure of running things, and thus with the de facto responsibility of taking care of any disagreements with Facebook.
Impact: WhatsApp users shouldn't start shopping around for a new messaging app just yet, but the app's development and maintenance team is now without cohesive leadership at the top echelons. This role will likely be taken over by Facebook, who logically intended some level of control over WhatsApp's operations and development from the time it made the purchase. WhatsApp has historically been known for being a feature-rich and privacy-focused app, and while all of that is unlikely to change any time soon, users should expect to see some changes in the direction of development. As for the impact this will have on Facebook, it's unlikely that we'll see any real change. In short, Arora's departure further clears the way for Facebook to seize more control of WhatsApp, both leveraging its development breakthroughs in order to help bolster the capabilities of the rest of its portfolio, and reaching further into the core of WhatsApp to seek more ways to monetize the app. That may sound like doom and gloom, but all it really means is that Facebook will be working in a more direct fashion with the remaining WhatsApp staffers. To sum it up, users almost certainly won't lose the app they love or see it corrupted in any conceivable way, but the development of new features may slow down or change direction, and the addition of more monetization channels is likely.