The news of Facebook buying off WhatsApp for a jaw-dropping $19 billion made international headlines. However, the Indian media was quick to spot Neeraj Arora, the vice-president for business development at WhatsApp, and he is now being credited as the man behind the record-breaking deal.
The Economic Times, one of the most highly circulated Indian business daily, carried an article titled "Neeraj Arora: The man who played key role in WhatsApp's rise".
Arora even made the front page of the newspaper. "With Facebook buying WhatsApp for $19 billion, Arora, the vice-president for business development, is likely to be a very prosperous man indeed although everyone is tightlipped about just how prosperous," the daily noted.
On his LinkedIn profile, Arora says he is responsible for "all things business at WhatsApp!" Prior to WhatsApp, Arora, who is an IIT-Delhi alumnus, has worked with Google, Times Internet Ltd and Accellion Inc. He spent four years handling corporate development for Google Inc., before joining WhatsApp in 2011, when it was only an upcoming startup.
The LinkedIn profile also says that he is an engineer and a 'self learnt hacker' at mobile file sharing.
"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 Indian School of Business (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."
Another Indian national daily, Hindustan Times, in an article "IIT-Delhi graduate head of 'all things business at WhatsApp'" stated that one of Arora's major achievements in India was to convince Anil Ambani's Reliance Communications to bundle unlimited use of WhatsApp with a ₹16-per-month data plan. The scheme was an instant success.
Arora is married to Ruchi Bansal, whom he met ISB , while pursuing an MBA in Finance and Strategy. Ruchi is a Chartered Accountant.