WhatsApp's head of India Abhijit Bose and Meta's public policy head for the country Rajiv Aggarwal have both left the social networking firm — just days after Meta India chief Ajit Mohan quit the company to join rival Snap.
Meta confirmed the departure of both executives earlier today. The company also announced the appointment of Shivnath Thukral as its director of public policy in the country — replacing Aggarwal, who joined the company only last year from Uber.
It’s not clear how and if the two executives’ departures are related to Mohan’s move, but neither are connected to the 11,000 layoffs that Meta announced last week: they left of their own accord.
Yet Bose’s and Aggarwal’s departures could not have come at a less opportune time.
WhatsApp and Meta have faced a lot of criticism over the years in India, one of the company’s biggest markets, around a series of controversies. These have included allegations of antitrust behavior, privacy mishandling and enabling the spread of fake news that led to election manipulation. Some of the regulatory fallout from these is still making its way through the courts in the country.
And now, the company will be grappling with how to handle all of these issues and more, as well as the day-to-day operations around running and expanding the platform, with reduced staff due to the wider redundancies.
Bose joined WhatsApp in February 2019 — after spending over seven years as a co-founder and CEO of payments platform Ezetap (which is now a part of Razorpay).
During Bose's stay at Meta, WhatsApp expanded its user base to over half a billion users in the country. The instant messaging app also expanded payments as an integrated service in partnership with the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) — the governing body of UPI from the earlier 40 million users to 100 million in April this year. The payments service was launched in beta in early 2018.
Bose also worked with the local WhatsApp team to launch pilot projects to deliver users credit, insurance and pension and introduced grocery shopping by partnering with billionaire Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio.
In a LinkedIn post announcing his departure from Meta, Bose said that the move was planned for a while but held back due to the company-wide layoffs that were announced last week. He also said he planned to rejoin the entrepreneurial world after taking a small break.
"WhatsApp has the potential and opportunity to change the World. I hope that we keep our ambition and aggressiveness for impact, outsized and beyond what others think is achievable!" he said in the post.
"I want to thank Abhijit Bose for his tremendous contributions as our first Head of WhatsApp in India. His entrepreneurial drive helped our team deliver new services that have benefited millions of people and businesses. There is so much more WhatsApp can do for India and we're excited to continue helping advance India's digital transformation," said Will Cathcart, head of WhatsApp, in a prepared statement.
Meta is yet to appoint a replacement for Bose to lead its WhatsApp team in the country.
Meanwhile, Aggarwal has exited Meta over a year after leading its public policy division in the country.
"Rajiv Aggarwal has decided to step down from his role at Meta to pursue another opportunity. Over the last year, he has played an important role in leading our policy-led initiatives in areas such as user-safety, privacy and scaling up programs like GOAL to drive digital inclusion in the country. He has also been leading proactive engagement with critical policy and regulatory stakeholders. We are grateful for his contributions and wish him very best for the future," said Manish Chopra, director, partnerships, India, Meta.
Thukral -- who will lead policy-related moves for Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp in the country -- has been a part of the company's public policy team since 2017.
"We remain committed to our users in India and will continue to contribute meaningfully to the regulatory process that will enable everyone to harness the full potential of India’s digital economy," Chopra added.
Apart from losing employees due to the redundancies, Meta has been losing a number of key executives. In September, WhatsApp’s Indian payments business lead Manesh Mahatme also stepped down to join Amazon.