With over 241 Mn active users of Facebook in India, the social media giant has been continuously evaluating and reinventing its products and services in the country. However, it is almost after a year of search, the company has finally appointed Ajit Mohan as Managing Director and Vice-President, Facebook India.
The post of Facebook India Managing Director was left vacant for almost a year after Umang Bedi who was Managing Director of Facebook India & Southeast Asia had resigned in October 2017, just over a year after he joined the social media company.
Earlier reports had surfaced that Spencer Stuart, global executive search and leadership consulting firm, has considered or shortlisted executives like Star India MD Sanjay Gupta, Viacom18 group CEO Sudhanshu Vats, Tata Sky MD Harit Nagpal, and Hotstar CEO Ajit Mohan, among others for the position.
Mohan is expected to join Facebook early next year. To be noted, however, his LinkedIn profile still says he’s the CEO of Hotstar and it’s not clear whether he’s still with the company or has left.
The New Face Of Facebook India
As the new Managing Director for India, a VP-level role, Mohan will be aligning teams and driving Facebook’s overall strategy in India. This is a new structure for Facebook India of having a senior leader reporting into Menlo Park and not the Asia Pacific.
In a media statement, Facebook said that Mohan will be responsible for driving the company’s continued investment in India. He will lead a senior leadership team in India that will strengthen Facebook’s relationships with people, businesses, and government and intensify the company’s efforts to help people in India connect with the people and things they care about most.
“India is one of the largest and most strategically important countries for Facebook. As we think about what it will take to achieve our mission of bringing people together and building community, we know that investment in India is critical. Ajit’s depth of experience will help us to continue to have a positive impact in India across communities, organizations, businesses and with policymakers,” said David Fischer, Vice-President of Business and Marketing Partnerships, Facebook Inc.
An alumnus of McKinsey and Company’s New York office, Mohan has worked with media companies around the globe as well as served as a Fellow at the McKinsey Global Institute, where he focused on India’s rapid urbanization. Currently, Mohan is leading Hotstar, the video streaming platform launched by Star India as the Chief Executive Officer.
“I am delighted to take on the mantle of shaping Facebook’s charter in India. It is a unique opportunity to shape the agenda of a company that has brought the world closer together in one of the most exciting markets in the world. I look forward to championing India in Facebook and working with stakeholders across the spectrum to help build deep and meaningful communities across the country” said Mohan.
He is a graduate of the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) at Johns Hopkins University and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Finding New Avenues Of Growth
With the final choice for the India head being in place, Facebook is clearly focusing on video content for its growth. Earlier, in September 2017 social media giant raised a $610 Mn bid for the rights to stream five years of games from the Indian Premier League (IPL). But, at that time, Facebook lost to Star India’s Hotstar which made the winning bid of $2.5 Bn.
After Cambridge Analytica debacle, it has also introduced a host of India-focussed and India-first features. Besides Facebook Marketplace and Business, the company has now also entered the digital payments space with messenger set to have a payments feature. As with WhatsApp Pay, Messenger will also reportedly allow peer-to-peer payments.
On September 13, Mark Zuckerberg published Preparing for Elections, a note explaining steps taken by Facebook in identifying and removing fake accounts ahead of elections in countries such as France, Germany, Alabama, Mexico, Brazil, and India.
Zuckerberg also wrote about the efforts taken by the company on issues such as misinformation, advertisement transparency and verification, and coordinating with government and companies.
With Facebook continuing its focus for growth and expansion in India and Facebook India ready for an independent charge for Indian operations with a managing director coming in soon, the company is looking for the next level of growth in India.