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Transcript for Episode 3: The Inside Story of Facebook’s Biggest Acquisition

Aimee Keane (00:00):

One day in 2010, Neeraj Arora was trying to locate an office building.

Neeraj Arora (00:06):

This little dinky office.

Aimee Keane (00:08):

He was in Mountain View, California, home to some of the world's biggest tech companies. But unlike the sprawling corporate campuses throughout Silicon Valley, this office he was looking for was tucked away in a building that was shared with another company.

Neeraj Arora (00:21):

So I go into a conference room, which was not really a conference room, it had no like ceilings, so people outside could hear what we're talking about. So I was like a little surprised.

Aimee Keane (00:31):

Surprised because this was the headquarters of an impressive new messaging app that Neeraj was scoping out. He worked in M&A and corporate development at Google, and it was his job to find promising new companies that the tech giant might want to acquire. And in all of his travels to startups in the Bay Area, he wasn't used to seeing such a drabby office.

Neeraj Arora (00:50):

There was no fridge with like, fancy snacks. There was no like, colorful sofas. None of that shit was there. It felt like a trucking company's office, like I kid you not. It was the weirdest startup office that I'd seen by then.

Aimee Keane (01:06):

The startup, WhatsApp, an instant messaging app that was changing the way people texted with friends and family around the world. And it already had millions of users.

Neeraj Arora (01:17):

I had never heard of them. I did not know who the founders were. I had to look it up.

Aimee Keane (01:25):

So he looked up the company, sent a few messages trying to get in touch with the co-founders, and eventually got the invitation to meet with them at their humble office in Mountain View.

Neeraj Arora (01:34):

We sit down and we talked about close to 45 minutes an hour.

Aimee Keane (01:40):

This was a meeting with the co-founders, Brian Acton and Jan Koum.

Neeraj Arora (01:44):

And Jan hardly spoke a word.

Aimee Keane (01:47):

Koum was also CEO.

Neeraj Arora (01:48):

He can come off as a very intimidating character. Brian did most of the talking and we asked him a little bit about what the vision is.

Aimee Keane (01:56):

Their vision for the seemingly small startup was this.

Neeraj Arora (02:00):

The goal was to build a cross platform, very simple messaging app that does a lot better than what SMS is capable of doing. And also be inexpensive because it uses your data or wifi to operate.

Aimee Keane (02:16):

It was an intriguing concept, but Neeraj was especially taken with Acton and Koum.

Neeraj Arora (02:21):

These two guys are completely different. One, they were complete engineers. They had no interest in building a company or a business. They were so focused on building a utility that they did not care about anything else, that focus on building a product that serves a lot of people across the globe was so clear. They came across as very genuine, down to earth, serious, want to stay away from the hype of the Valley. There was nothing about them on the website. They never talked about themselves. They just wanted their product to go out and serve the users and it was so refreshing and so different from anything else I had seen in the Valley. I almost didn't believe it like that they are sitting here in Mountain View,

Aimee Keane (03:10):

Neeraj’s next move. He made them an offer to join Google.

Neeraj Arora (03:14):

The offer price went up from 10, 12 million as the first offer, to 100 million as the last offer. They declined all those offers.

Aimee Keane (03:23):

Acton and Koum told Neeraj they didn't wanna be part of a big company again. They'd already been longtime employees at Yahoo before they started WhatsApp. They told him:

Neeraj Arora (03:32):

We love Google but no thank you.

Aimee Keane (03:33):

Once again Neeraj was taken aback.

Neeraj Arora (03:36):

To reject that at that time was for me, surprising and also my respect for them went up like ten notches. Wow, like, these guys are something else. I have not seen something like this before. When I met them, I just fell in love with what they were doing.

Aimee Keane (03:54):

At this point he had to make a decision. He knew he wanted to be part of whatever Acton and Koum were building but he couldn't seem to bring them into the Google fold. Then a kind of wild idea: what about rather than trying to bring them in, he jumped ship and joined them instead? He spent the next several months pitching himself to the co-founders. Part of his pitch was that he'd take care of the operations, so that the two of them could focus on engineering, on building out the product itself. And in 2011, the year after he stepped into the WhatsApp office for the first time, Neeraj left Google to join them.

Neeraj Arora (04:28):

There were no meetings, there was no chit chat. It was like, just go to work, get your shit done and go back. And I think once I was past six months, I think I was fine, I think I was able to build that trust with them. I think they liked me and I was like, okay, great, like this is it. And then the rest is history.

Aimee Keane (04:52):

History that unfolded over 12 years where Neeraj became a critical member of the WhatsApp executive team.

Neeraj Arora (04:59):

In 2014, I was the Chief Business Officer at WhatsApp.

Aimee Keane (05:02):

An app that today serves billions of users all over the world.

Neeraj Arora (05:06):

And I helped negotiate the 22 billion sale to Facebook.

Aimee Keane (05:10):

A sale that still ranks as the largest ever purchase of a company backed by venture capital.

Neeraj Arora (05:15):

And today, I regret it.

Aimee Keane (05:19):

On this episode, how Facebook acquired WhatsApp, as told by the app's former chief business officer Neeraj Aurora. why he regrets the sale today and how all of it affects how our privacy is handled online. This is The Closer, the inside story of the deals that change the world. I'm Aimee Keane. We'll be back after the break.

Aimee Keane (05:45):

WhatsApp was a different kind of Silicon Valley startup from the beginning.

Kirsten Grind (05:49):

One thing that I think is important to say is WhatsApp wasn't just like a company for these guys. It was like a mission.

Aimee Keane (05:56):

This is Kirsten Grind. She's an enterprise reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

Kirsten Grind (06:00):

They really wanted to bring free messaging and privacy to the people. That was really what they were trying to do,

Aimee Keane (06:09):

And they were succeeding. Acton and KOum founded the company in 2009, and by 2012 had over 100 million users. Part of the success came from the fact that at the time, people text messaging over SMS were charged for cellular use, whereas WhatsApp relied on an internet connection. It was also more effective at sending messages with photos and videos.

Kirsten Grind (06:33):

And so it was really this like huge deal and just had such big adoption.

Aimee Keane (06:39):

The founders of WhatsApp decided early on that privacy was core to WhatsApp, as a product, and as a company.

Kirsten Grind (06:46):

Jan had a really interesting background. He grew up in Ukraine and because of that was just very nervous about privacy in general, had grown up in a communist country with secret police where your communications are watched. And both of them had this experience at Yahoo where they saw how it just ruined — in their opinions — the user experience, when these big display ads were adopted.

Aimee Keane (07:17):

So they decided.

Kirsten Grind (07:18):

We're not gonna do ads and privacy is key.

Aimee Keane (07:24):

This meant that something called encryption was a central feature of the app. WhatsApp users could send a message that was scrambled or encrypted, and then decrypted only by the recipient, which kept those messages secure. Years later, WhatsApp would take its privacy promises a step further. It provided something called end-to-end encryption, which meant not even WhatsApp server could see what was being sent on the platform.

Kirsten Grind (07:50):

So that was their big thing: privacy, no ads.

Aimee Keane (07:55):

The company was backed by just one big venture capital firm, Sequoia Capital.

Kirsten Grind (08:01):

It was well known as one of these big players in Silicon Valley, but they were the only investor in WhatsApp, which was really unusual.

Aimee Keane (08:11):

There was a Sequoia partner named Jim Goetz, who actually helped Neeraj land the role at WhatsApp. According to Neeraj, Goetz wanted a so-called business guy in the mix, but Acton and Koum kept saying no to the people he sent their way. Since the co-founders were taking a liking to Neeraj, Goetz was ready to make it happen.

Neeraj Arora (08:29):

He said, “no, just tell me what you want. I'll get it done for you.”

Aimee Keane (08:32):

Shortly after Neeraj officially started working at WhatsApp, one of the biggest names in Silicon Valley came knocking.

Neeraj Arora (08:38):

There were multiple approaches, which were not direct, they were indirect, and they were more like, “oh, I'm doing this deal. I'm working on a big deal. It's billions of dollars. But I would rather work with you guys if you're interested. I know you're not, but let us know.”

Aimee Keane (08:53):

It was Mark Zuckerberg.

Neeraj Arora (08:56):

He would talk to Jan once in a while to stay in touch and he would do all these, you know, funny tactics to really understand whether we are really interested or not. And we just kept on ignoring him.

Aimee Keane (09:09):

Facebook was on a roll at this point. It had gone public in a much anticipated IPO. It splashed out a billion dollars to buy Instagram, and yet the WhatsApp crew wasn't interested in the social network's advances. But then a couple things happened. One, WhatsApp came out with its user numbers, 400 million monthly active users as of December, 2013.

Neeraj Arora (09:33):

First time we said we are bigger than Twitter, everybody was like, what the hell is this company?

Aimee Keane (09:39):

Two, Facebook revamped its own Messenger app.

Neeraj Arora (09:42):

They actually took Messenger off the main app and made it like, starting to look more like us. But they were struggling because WhatsApp was like just too deep. And the network effects were strong. We were becoming an existential threat to Facebook.

Aimee Keane (10:00):

An existential threat perhaps, as well as some Silicon Valley competition. Forbes reported at the time that Zuckerberg had caught wind, that WhatsApp was set to meet with Google, a potential rival buyer. So executives at Facebook quickly put together an offer for a deal they'd been trying to make happen for two years.

Neeraj Arora (10:19):

That is when I think they finally made a big move. They finally came and said, “Look, this time things are different.”

Aimee Keane (10:27):

This was February, 2014, and this time round Facebook offered more of a partnership than a straightforward takeover.

Neeraj Arora (10:34):

You can stay independent, you can do whatever you want. We'll not force you to change anything in the product or make you monetize anything. Jan can join the board.

Aimee Keane (10:43):

And they dangle the figure.

Neeraj Arora (10:45):

The first time was around 12 billion. Zuck was really charming. He was like, “look, I, I want to make the biggest deal of my life, right? This is huge. We love what you guys are doing, and together we can really do well.”

Aimee Keane (11:00):

There was a lot about Zuckerberg's latest approach that felt different than the earlier ones to Neeraj, Acton and Koum. They were intrigued but not quite ready to go all in. After several days of going back and forth over what the partnership would look like, they still hadn't landed on the right price.

Neeraj Arora (11:20):

It was a pretty big decision on both sides. And we were just consumed with like, are we doing the right thing? If we are doing the right thing, how do we do it?

Aimee Keane (11:33):

Koum went over to Zuckerberg's house where they eventually got to a number: $19 billion. That same night Koum called Neeraj over to Zuckerberg's place to celebrate.

Neeraj Arora (11:43):

Yes, I think he knew that Jan’s favorite whiskey was Blue Label. So he had a bottle ready.

Aimee Keane (11:52):

But Neeraj did not want to drink. Just a toast.

Neeraj Arora (11:56):

I just got back and started thinking about how do we start working on this thing.

Aimee Keane (12:01):

Facebook and WhatsApp got their legal teams ready to sort out the finer points of the deal and they set up shop at WhatsApp's lawyer's offices to get things going. The social network proposed an exclusivity period, but WhatsApp declined. Neeraj and his team wanted to make sure everyone was working quickly to get a deal done. The talks went fairly smoothly except for one big point of contention: the breakup fee. This is the fee an acquiring company promises to pay the target company if the deal doesn't go through, say for regulatory reasons.

Neeraj Arora (12:33):

That was the big sticking point that we were not able to agree on. And which took maybe, I would say a few hours of back and forth and yelling to sort out. Basically between me and the head of corp dev on the other side in a room. But it was my job and, and the guy who was on the other side, their job to make sure that we get to some sort of an agreement. If we don't get to a number that we are happy with, we're very happy to just walk away from this thing.

Aimee Keane (13:03):

Ready to walk away from the entire deal if they couldn't agree on the right number for the breakup fee. But they eventually got to it, a billion dollars. With that big sticking point out of the way, there were a few more days and nights of folks on both sides negotiating the details and drawing up the deal documents.

Neeraj Arora (13:21):

Most of the time Jan and Brad were there, but they would get some sleep at night and then come back early in the morning. And Zuck was there pretty much most of the time. And he would go back and come in again.

Aimee Keane (13:33):

And then in less than a week, the deal was complete.

News Archive Clip (13:37):

Facebook is making a major move into mobile this morning. The social media behemoth is buying the messaging company WhatsApp. Facebook will pay $19 billion.

News Archive Clip (13:47):

This hour, as you heard, Facebook has bought the mobile messaging service WhatsApp for $19 billion in cash.

News Archive Clip (13:54):

Acton along with his partner are now newly minted billionaires after Facebook paid $19 billion for their messaging service WhatsApp.

Neeraj Arora (14:02):

Yeah, I think it is a very emotional day because in the end Jan had to sign on the line, right, that we agreed to everything and this is final. It was surreal.

Kirsten Grind (14:19):

At that time, there really weren't big acquisitions like this.

Aimee Keane (14:24):

This is Kirsten Grind again.

Kirsten Grind (14:26):

So Facebook, two years earlier had bought Instagram for $1 billion and at that time, 2012, that was a massive deal.

Aimee Keane (14:37):

So when the Facebook WhatsApp deal was announced for $19 billion, it was mind blowing. The deal would end up closing near $22 billion because of the rise in Facebook's share price.

Kirsten Grind (14:49):

And it was the largest, and continues to be, the largest venture-backed deal, backed only by one venture capital firm, Sequoia. So it was just, you know, astronomical.

Aimee Keane (15:02):

So when the acquisition happened, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg promised a fairly hands-off approach to both WhatsApp co-founders. What changed?

Kirsten Grind (15:12):

What happened was two things. First of all, WhatsApp, already extremely popular, grew even more popular. So in a couple years after the acquisition, around 2016, it topped a billion users. And then at the same time, Facebook for a variety of reasons, its own growth was slowing. So here are two things Mark Zuckerberg and Cheryl Sandberg, the COO at the time, were looking at, right, so there started to be pressure from the Facebook executives on the WhatsApp team to actually make money off this product.

Aimee Keane (15:52):

And just to step back for a second, I mean, Facebook and WhatsApp, they were really different companies. Can you just give us a sense of what was so different between these two companies?

Kirsten Grind (16:02):

They literally, they literally could not be more different. So Facebook, the way it operates is based on using data to monetize its products, right. WhatsApp was completely opposite.

Aimee Keane (16:18):

So when the picture starts to shift for Zuckerberg and Sandberg, they're saying, “okay, this company we acquired a few years ago has had explosive user growth. Meanwhile, growth at our core business is slowing down.” So what did they wanna do with WhatsApp?

Kirsten Grind (16:34):

So they basically wanted to loosen the bedrock of WhatsApp. They wanted them to kind of loosen their stance on privacy. I'm not saying Facebook was like, we wanna suck up all this user data and use it, you know, in the wrong way. but they wanted to probably be able to target ads to WhatsApp users, right. Basically the worst thing that could be pitched to Jan and Brian.

Aimee Keane (17:05):

Remember what Facebook promised back when the deal was verbally agreed.

Kirsten Grind (17:09):

As we reported at the journal several years ago, in their contract when Facebook had purchased WhatsApp, they actually got the company to agree to a clause that said, if you ever try and put ads in WhatsApp, like we can leave and take our money basically. So they were like, this is not happening.

Aimee Keane (17:33):

Something else became important to Facebook executives.

Kirsten Grind (17:37):

Facebook was like, you need to move to our campus.

Aimee Keane (17:41):

The campus was a whole different vibe than that small understated WhatsApp office Neeraj first met Acton and Koum in years earlier.

Kirsten Grind (17:49):

The Facebook campus is like Disneyland. It's very overwhelming. There's shops and you know, ice cream and laundry and all of this. And that was just not what the WhatsApp people were used to.

Aimee Keane (18:05):

And you'll remember what the WhatsApp people we're used to.

Neeraj Arora (18:08):

There were no meetings, there was no chit chat, there was no fridge with like fancy snacks. None of that shit was there.

Aimee Keane (18:18):

So with the physical move of WhatsApp to Facebook's campus came a series of clashes over company culture.

Kirsten Grind (18:25):

So as you can imagine, like when there's a really big issue, the really small issues start cropping up too. For example, WhatsApp's office was kind of in a crowded area where people would walk by, so they like put up a sign saying, please be quiet, or something like that. And then of course all the Facebook employees were sort of like, “oh, WhatsApp, like WhatsApp shut up.” You know, just this very like catty stuff. And then another issue that emerged was over like WhatsApp's bathroom stalls, which they had, you could argue better bathrooms because the doors reached all the way to the floor.

Aimee Keane (19:07):

Privacy everywhere.

Kirsten Grind (19:09):

Yeah, even in the bathroom. Exactly. So the Facebook people were like, why do they have better bathrooms? And they had bigger desks and you know, Jan was even like quibbling with Mark Zuckerberg about the chairs. And it just turned into this very like, you know, not a happy environment.

Aimee Keane (19:28):

Meanwhile, Facebook executives were still focused on monetization.

Neeraj Arora (19:33):

Sheryl's team started becoming a little impatient about that. Okay, I think we need to be a little bit more in control of how this thing scales on the business side, right. I think they had grown Facebook and, and Instagram obviously, into such a big advertising product that they were, it was difficult for them to think about something else, right? For them, a user was a user and you could put a dollar value to that user,

Aimee Keane (19:59):

But this wasn't quite how WhatsApp thought about it's by now more than a billion users.

Kirsten Grind (20:04):

These guys were just so worried about that mucking up the user experience and then it's like a slippery slope, right? Because if you're gonna serve a user ads, you want them to be good ads, right? So then for them to be good ads, you need more user data. So that's loosening the privacy pillar that they were so staunchly in favor of. So to get more data, they're going to have to lose some of that encryption that they worked so hard for. You really can't get into it without going all the way, if that makes sense. So I'm sure they saw that writing on the wall.

Neeraj Arora (20:46):

We were like, okay, this is not something which we signed up for.

Aimee Keane (20:49):

Encryption, which had made WhatsApp such a groundbreaking app in its early days, which its users had requested and loved, and which was a core value to the company itself. For the WhatsApp team, encryption was non-negotiable.

Neeraj Arora (21:04):

There was a lot of talk about, you know, do we really stand by our user's privacy that we promised to our users? And Brian was the first one. He said, “I'm done, I'm leaving.”

Aimee Keane (21:15):

We'll be right back.

Aimee Keane (21:18):

WhatsApp co-founder Brian Acton left Facebook at the end of 2017. This was following pressure from the company's executives to monetize the messaging app.

Kirsten Grind (21:27):

And in doing so, he left an enormous amount of money that he could have collected on the table, about $900 million. So our sourcing told us back then, Brian, while all this discussion was going on with the ads, he decided to go back and look at his contract. And in the contract, right, it said if they're gonna put ads in WhatsApp, then he's allowed to get his money faster. And so he tried to enforce that according to our sources. And Facebook was basically like stonewalling, like threatened legal action. And he already had made, at that time, he was worth about $3 billion, I believe we reported, and he just decided to leave.

Aimee Keane (22:15):

Well, can you tell us about what ultimately made him decide it was time to go?

Kirsten Grind (22:20):

Listen, these guys are billionaires. You know, Jan at that time was worth about $9 billion, so he didn't really have to stick around, not really. That seems like an astronomical amount of money to normal people, but to executives who are already billionaires, you know, maybe it's not worth going against your mission to collect that money.

Aimee Keane (22:47):

A few months later in March, 2018.

News Archive Clip (22:50):

The data firm Cambridge Analytica was able to access the private information of 50 million Facebook users without their permission.

News Archive Clip (22:58):

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook's parent company Meta will join other tech executives to face the deposition over the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

News Archive Clip (23:07):

Investigation amid word it may  have mishandled data. The information was later used by Cambridge Analytica, a consultant to the Trump campaign.

Aimee Keane (23:14):

Cambridge Analytica. It's the name of the now defunct political consulting firm and a scandal that rocked Facebook. The firm managed to obtain data from close to 87 million Facebook users without their consent, later selling that data to politicians. And as details of the breach came out, an online movement to hashtag “delete Facebook” grew.

Kirsten Grind (23:37):

And one of the people that posted was Brian Acton, and it was a huge deal when he on Twitter and posted “delete Facebook,” because that was sort of like, wow, actually one of their own is encouraging people to delete Facebook.

Neeraj Arora (23:58):

To come out publicly and tweet like this, that part was shocking. Not that he said what he said, but that he actually took a stance in public.

Aimee Keane (24:07):

Then in April of that year, Koum stepped down.

Kirsten Grind (24:11):

He also was very frustrated with where the discussions were going. He, in fact, also was on Facebook's board. So his departure was even, you know, bigger of a deal, you could argue.

Aimee Keane (24:24):

These two engineers had built the most popular messaging app in the world, sold it to Facebook for a record amount, and became billionaires in the process. Now they were walking away. Do you think they were naive in any way just given the price tag that Facebook paid for them? You know, despite the promises made, you know, as Facebook was courting them,

Kirsten Grind (24:47):

I mean, we certainly thought a lot about that and analysts have said like, guys, like you agreed to this purchase by Facebook, which is clearly this giant tech company that cares about making money. So yes, you could definitely look at this situation and say, were these guys naive to be sold to a company like that? But on the other hand, they knew that, they were eyes wide open and that's why they demanded all this stuff, including in their contract from these guys so that they could remain separate.

Aimee Keane (25:26):

What did you glean from watching the aftermath of this deal?

Kirsten Grind (25:30):

This was like the first deal that really showed kind of what Facebook is after. And I mean, I don't say that to fault Facebook. They're not a nonprofit, they're a business, they're a business, a publicly traded business that needs to make money. And so it's funny to look back on those early days of when the sale happened in 2014. There was definitely this innocence about tech and about Facebook, and that definitely played a part in opening the eyes, I believe, of consumers to that ecosystem.

Aimee Keane (26:08):

Acton left Facebook and later joined Signal where he's now the executive chairman and interim CEO. Signal being the encrypted privacy first messaging platform that's run as a nonprofit. Koum on the other hand.

Kirsten Grind (26:21):

Jan has been a little bit more MIA. When he left, he said he was going to go collect Porsches and do things like that.

Aimee Keane (26:31):

And then he made headlines last year for making sizable political donations in the US midterm elections. As for Neeraj, he left Facebook at the end of 2018. He co-founded a new social app called Hallo with user privacy in mind. And in launching the company, he had something of a big tweet himself. It read…

Neeraj Arora (26:53):

In 2014, I was the Chief Business Officer at WhatsApp and I helped negotiate the 22 billion sale to Facebook. Today, I regret it.

Aimee Keane (27:02):

His post went on to explain what went wrong from his point of view. Neeraj, what motivated you to make this post?

Neeraj Arora (27:10):

All the issues that were coming out of the Facebook camp just kept on increasing after that. Cambridge Analytica was the first big one, but I think there was, I think a lot more that came out. The misinformation piece, the hate speech piece, the election interference, those things just kept going on and on and on. And the realization that I had was, all these years, the last 20 years or so, we built all these phenomenal products that serve so many users across the globe, have we lost the plot? Obviously we've done exec really well. We built this amazing product, keep people connected, serves a need. But in this rush to get to these users and build these amazing companies and monetize, we've actually lost the values of how a business should be built and what it does for the users and how it keeps these promises. And eventually it became very clear to me that, you know, we have to take a stance at some point. But it's also a good time that we talk about, you know, what happened, how it could have been different.

Aimee Keane (28:18):

Do you think the fallout from this deal will have any effect on how we communicate online, how we think about privacy?

Neeraj Arora (28:25):

People are waking up to it, the government's waking up to it. We've seen the effects of it over the years and you know, I'm not against advertising. The goal is that you can now build a social product without the need of actually compromising your user's privacy and data and selling it to the advertisers, right? It’s not about, you know, killing the advertising industry or anything.

Aimee Keane (28:53):

In your post, you spoke of this perverse business model of growth and monetization that comes at the expense of users. What do you think the solution is for online communication and social media?

Neeraj Arora (29:05):

We have come a long way where you can actually build subscription businesses. There are enough examples of Netflix and Dropbox and a bunch of other apps that have said, “look, we want to have a direct relationship with our users. We'll give them value and they'll pay for it.” Right? People care about their privacy, they understand how these apps work, what they do for them, what data do they use and how. So it's sort of like a movement. It's a change, I call it an EV moment of the social world, the electric vehicle moment of our world. Where you've been used to using the gas engines forever and then Elon comes around and says, okay, I'm gonna build a Tesla. Most of the cars in the future will be electric. So it's sort of like taking a different stance and saying, okay, we've been used to something, it works, but now we have to do it better and different.

Aimee Keane (29:53):

My last question for you, Neeraj. You sit in a very, I think, special position with a very special perch over there in the Bay area, looking at the future of technology and our communication. What should we be worried about? About what's sort of coming down the track or what you are thinking about and the problems you're trying to solve?

Neeraj Arora (30:14):

There's this belief here that all the things that we do are great, and we are always right and we don't have to really be responsible. I think it's a good time for tech to say, okay, obviously we are, we do very important things, but that doesn't mean that you don't take responsibility of what happens after the products get used by so many people. So whether it is A.I. that is the next big thing that everybody is, is, you know, talking about and working on. Every frontier that we have been working on and we continue to work on, it has to be with a lot of responsibility towards the user and the effects of it. For me, that is the biggest learning, and that's, I think, something which we should push more and more for everywhere. That has to be the biggest change, I think and it is happening like, because it is gonna only get better, I think from here.

Aimee Keane (31:14):

That's it for us this week. Thanks for listening. We're bringing you inside deal stories on The Closer and now it's your turn. Tell us about a time when you were the closer. We're all involved in deal making every now and then, even if we don't realize it. Maybe it's negotiating your salary, your rent, or your kids' allowances, whatever it is, we want to hear about it. Here's how. Send us a voice memo with your first name and where you're from. And then in just a few sentences, tell us what the deal was and what it meant to you. You can email your audio file to We'll review all the submissions and we just might play yours on a future episode. Now, if you want more from The Closer, we have the newsletter for you, go to to sign up. It's written by journalist and Closer producer Ben Walsh and it's witty, informative, and the place where he dives into the mechanics of M&A and analyzes deals in the news. You'll also get a chance to see show notes from each episode and much more from our team. So just sign And this week on the Brazen Plus subscription channel on Apple Podcasts, Ben and I break down Facebook's long approach for WhatsApp. Find it on Apple Podcast. Again, that's the Brazen Plus subscription channel.


The Closer is a production of Project Brazen in partnership with PRX. Our show is produced by Isabelle Kerby-McGowan and Ben Walsh. Siddhartha Mahanta is our editor. Mariangel Gonzalez is our project manager, and Lucy Woods is our fact checker and head of research. Golda Arthur is our showrunner. And Bradley Hope and Tom Wright are executive producers. At Project Brazen, Francesca Gilardi Quadrio Curzio and Nour Abdel Latif are podcast strategists. Megan Dean is our programing manager, and Ryan Ho is design lead. Thanks to Eric Gomez for audio engineering and sound design and Alex Garcia Amat for composing. I'm Aimee Keane. Thanks for listening.