Facebook addresses political controversy in India, monetization opportunities, startup investments – ClearTips
In the beginning In the last decade, Facebook had a small presence in India. It had begun to gradually expand its team in the country and had deals with telecom operators to offer users free access to its service and even offering incentives such as free voice credit.
India’s Internet population, now the second largest with over 500 million connected users, was itself very small. As of early 2011, the country had fewer than 100 million Internet users.
But facebook The last decade ended up playing an important role. So much so that by the end, social juggernaut was reaching almost every internet user in the country. WhatsApp According to mobile insights firm App Annie, India alone reaches over 400 million Internet users, more than any other app in the country.
Facebook did not reach this end in India. Politicians in the country today rely too much on Facebook services, including WhatsApp, to get their message out. But it also has complicated things.
Rumors have spread over WhatsApp that costs lives, and in recent weeks leaders of both India’s major political parties have accused the company of showing favoritism to the other side.
To address these issues, and Facebook’s desire to play a role in India, Ajit Mohan, Head of the company’s business in the country, joined us in disarray 2020. There are some highlights.
A recent report by the WSJ claimed that one of Facebook’s top executives in India, Ankit Das, decided against taking the post of a politician from a ruling party. He did so, the report claimed, because he feared it might affect the company’s business prospects in India.
In Mohan’s first interview since the dispute broke out, he denied claims that any executive in the country had the power to influence how Facebook enforces its content policy.
“We believe it is important for us to be open and neutral and non-partisan,” he said. “We have a deep belief and conviction that our enabling role is as a neutral party that allows for all types of speech, which allows for all forms of expression, including political expression, and developed by us A lot of the guidelines made are to ensure that we truly enable our diversity of expression and opinion as long as we are able to ensure that the safety and security of people is protected. “
Mohan said that internal processes and systems inside Facebook are designed to ensure that the opinion and priority of an employee or group of employees is “quite different from the objective enforcement of the company and the company’s own policies.”
He said that individuals can offer input on decisions, but none – including Anki Das – can influence a unilateral decision that Facebook takes on content enforcement.
“We also allow free expression within the company. We have no difficulty in expressing our views to people, but we see that our content is different from the enforcement of policy. […] Material policy, in the context of India, is a team that is different from the public policy team, which is headed by Anki, ”he said.
On India and Demonetization
Even though Facebook has upset millions of users in India, the world’s second largest market contributes little to its bottom line. So why does Facebook care about the country so much?
“India is in the midst of a very exciting economic and social transformation where digital plays a big role. In the last four years, more than 500 million users have come online. The pace of this change has no resemblance either in human history or in digital transformation happening in countries around the world.
“For a company like ours, if you look at the family of apps on WhatsApp and Instagram, we believe we have a useful role in accomplishing this change.”
Even Facebook does not generate a lot of revenue from India, Mohan said that the company has established itself as one of the most trusted platforms for marketers. “They are a partner for us in their marketing agenda,” he said.
He said that the company hopes that advertising in terms of GDP will grow in India. “So ad-revenue will become substantial over time,” he said.
For Facebook, India is also important because it allows the company to manufacture some unique products that solve issues for India but may be replicated in other markets. The company is currently testing an integration of WhatsApp, which currently does not have a business model despite having over 2 billion users, with the new Indian e-commerce JioMart, allowing users to easily track their orders. gives.
He said, “We think there is an opportunity to build models first in India, used extensively, and in a world where we succeed, we see an opportunity to take some of these models globally ,” They said.
Facebook as VC
Facebook does not usually invest in startups. But in India, the company has invested in social-commerce firm Meesho, the online learning platform Unacademy – even participated in its follow-up round – and a $ 5.7 billion check to Jio Platforms earlier this year gave. So why is Facebook taking this investment route in India?
“We wanted to create a program to take minority investment in early stage startups to explore how we can be helpful to startup founders and the ecosystem as a whole. The starting point was supporting teams that were building models that were unique to India in some ways and could be global. Since we invested in mesh, He has made a strong emphasis in Indonesia. These are the kind of companies where we think we can learn from these start-ups along with value. ”
The partnership with Jio Platforms follows a different logic. “The change we talked about in India over the years triggered Jio,” he said. In addition, Facebook is exploring ways to work with Jio, such as Jio’s venture with its partnership with JioMart. He said, “It can actually promote small and medium trade which is good for the Indian economy.”
Mohan said that the company looks for more opportunities in Indian startups, especially those where the team believes Facebook can add value, but added that there is no mandate of any kind to invest in Facebook, Startups can say three to four years. “It’s not a volume play,” he said.
During part of the interview, Mohan was asked if Reliance Industries, which operates Jio Platforms and Reliance Retail, would gain any special access to Facebook’s services. What if Amazon, BigBasket, Grofers, or Flipkart want to integrate with WhatsApp, too? Mohan said that the Facebook platform is open to every firm and everyone will get the same level of access and opportunities.
In the interview, Mohan, who ran Disney-run Hotstar There was also talk about the on-demand streaming service in India, the increasing use of video in India, the status of the rollout of WhatsApp Pay in the country, what Facebook thinks of India’s ban on Chinese apps, and more. You can watch the full interview below.