Former WhatsApp Chief Business Officer Neeraj Arora has announced the launch of his new venture called HalloApp that works as an ad-free, private social network. The latest offering is touted to come as a “real-relationship network” that allows users to have real-life conversations with their contacts. Arora has founded HalloApp in collaboration with his former WhatsApp colleague Michael Donohue. Both Arora and Donohue were amongst the early employees of the instant messaging app that Facebook acquired in 2014. Interestingly, HalloApp has many features that make it a close competitor to not just WhatsApp but also Facebook itself.
Arora announced the launch of HalloApp on Twitter. He says that unlike traditional social media platforms (read Facebook), his offering comes with no advertisements, bots, likes, and followers and lets you come online for real friends.
“Our vision at HalloApp is to build a simple, safe, private place for people to connect and share what matters — with the people who matter most,” he said while concluding his long thread on Twitter.
HalloApp uses access to your phone address book to connect you with people available on its network. However, Arora on the company’s blog mentioned that the platform doesn’t collect, store, or use any personal information of its users. He also emphasised that chats on HalloApp will be end-to-end encrypted — something has helped WhatsApp gain traction.
Unlike Facebook and other similar social media platforms, HalloApp does not use algorithms. It also does not serve advertisements. However, Arora indicated plans to bring a subscription-based model to offer additional features in the future.
HalloApp is available for download through Apple’s App Store and Google Play store. It currently doesn’t have Web access like Facebook and WhatsApp, though.
The experience that you’ll get on HalloApp is similar to Facebook and WhatsApp as it lets users stay connected with their close friends and family whose numbers are there in your contact book. You can also go for individual chats or group conversations and can post photos about what exactly is happening.
But nonetheless, Arora has not explicitly mentioned WhatsApp — or even Facebook — on his public posts about HalloApp. This could be a marketing strategy to not name a particular product at the initial stage. He, however, took a dig at both WhatsApp and Facebook by saying, “No misinformation spreading like wildfire.”
LinkedIn profiles of Arora and his co-founder Michael Donohue (former WhatsApp Engineering Director) suggest that both started HalloApp in September 2019.
After spending a year at Google as a part of its Corporate Development team, Arora joined WhatsApp in November 2011, and worked with the early team behind the instant messaging for over seven years before quitting in November 2018. He was one of the key faces even before Facebook acquired WhatsApp for a whopping $22 billion (roughly Rs. 1,64,175 crores). Arora even helped WhatsApp co-founders Jan Koum and Brian Acton signed the Facebook deal.