Focused on investing in India for long run: Facebook

At Fuel for India 2020, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will join Mukesh Ambani, Chairman and MD of Reliance Industries, to discuss opportunities in the market.
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Facebook is committed to investing in India for the long term and continues to build tools for businesses to help them build and grow their online presence, a top company official said.

Speaking to PTI, Facebook Chief Revenue Officer David Fischer said the company has made investments and undertaken some unique bets that it hasn't done in any other part of the world.

"One of the things that really stands out about India is the pace of innovation, and the transformation that's happening here and the impact that it is having. And that's the reason that we are making special investments, we've set up a special structure for India and doing some things in India that we haven't done anywhere else around the world, making some unique investments and bets," he said.

Facebook is hosting 'Fuel for India 2020', which will see CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Reliance Industries Chairman and Managing Director Mukesh Ambani engage in a conversation around opportunities in India, the way digital can accelerate economic progress, and how small businesses will be a key part of the global recovery going forward.

Fischer noted that India is the only country the company has made minority investments in companies like Meesho and Unacademy, to advance digital innovation.

"Of course, there is our partnership with Jio platforms. The joint focus of both companies is on connecting people, helping digital economy come to life and empowering the more than 60 million small businesses across India with digital tools...So we're really enthusiastic about the opportunities in India," he added.

In April, Facebook had announced an investment of $5.7 billion (Rs 43,574 crore) in Jio Platforms.

Fischer explained that many tools that were previously piloted in the US first, are now being tested in India - indicating the importance of the Indian market.

"Now, with the launch of Reels on Instagram and the testing and rollout of Live Rooms on Instagram, Watch on Facebook where India really is among the top markets for that, WhatsApp Pay is something that we've started in India...we're investing in innovating for India," he said.

Facebook India's revenues grew 43 per cent year-on-year to about Rs 1,277.3 crore in 2019-20, while its net profit more than doubled to Rs 135.7 crore. Its gross ad billing was at Rs 6,612.6 crore.

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"We are certainly proud of the growth that we're seeing (in India), and we will continue to focus on that but we are much more attuned to the results of the clients who are using our tools and so from our standpoint, we want to grow both people using our free tools as well as our paid tools. We also really focus on trying to drive growth for the businesses on our platforms because if we can help them do that, then we will get good business results," Fischer said.

Talking about 'Fuel for India 2020', Facebook India VP and managing director Ajit Mohan said the event will showcase how institutions — non-profits, individuals using Facebook groups, businesses, and creators — are leveraging Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp.

"We believe that the story that of our work in India, across our apps, the impact is so wide that this was an opportunity for us to tell those stories but really relying on our partners and creators to talk about how they're using our platforms," he added.

The event will see participation from top leaders at Facebook and its group companies, and partners. These include Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Instagram head Adam Mosseri, Unacademy Co-founder Gaurav Munjal, Whitehat Jr Founder Karan Bajaj, and Samsung India Senior VP Asim Warsi, among others.

Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta