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CEO Mark Zuckerberg all in on India: Nicola Mendelsohn, VP, Global Business Group at Meta

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg is ”all in” on India and the country is a “lighthouse” for Meta and at the “forefront” of innovation in areas such as Reels, business messaging and the WhatsApp JioMart partnership, said Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president, Global Business Group at Meta in an interview to ET.

“Mark is all in on India. He’s leading (work) on the new products. And so many of the new products are coming out of India. Reels and messaging on WhatsApp have exploded here. The investment on Reels in India has been ahead of many countries around the world. The investment on messaging and the things that we’re doing here from a business perspective ..It really is extraordinary,” she said.

“The way in which people are utilizing WhatsApp and consequently, some of the product development that we’re doing here now, from an advertising perspective, that wasn’t the case a few years ago. The WhatsApp JioMart partnership is a great example of social commerce and India has also been at the forefront of that global innovation. The rest of the world is looking to learn from the kind of work that we’re doing with creators here,” she added.

Mendelsohn was speaking to ET on the sidelines of the Creator Day event. Meta kicked off the 2022 edition of its Creator Day event in Mumbai to celebrate creators in India. The 2022 version of the event will also be held in Hyderabad, Kolkata, Chennai and Delhi. Over 500 creators attended the Mumbai event.

Referring to reports of Zuckerberg implementing a hiring freeze and considering a potential restructuring of the company, Mendelsohn said a large number of headwinds are impacting businesses all over the world.

“Mark spoke about this in quarter two as well. Businesses are being impacted all over the world and in different ways. And he was very clear about the fact that we were going to be slowing down on our hiring and really focusing and doubling down on the priorities that we have as a company. There are factors like inflation, supply chain and currency. Not all countries are as fortunate as India to see the percentage growth that you’ve had now for a very long time,” she added.

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She said India is a real ‘’hub’’ for technology. “This is not just from an engineering perspective. There is fantastic talent here, but also from the point of view of the creation of the startup economy that is here now. The unicorn businesses that are being created here. So we see that and we see that vibrancy, which I think is reflective of where the Indian economy is going as well,” she added.

Meta’s India MD Ajit Mohan said there are three areas where Meta has put in disproportionate energy and investments over the last two years: video (in particular Reels), building a proposition for small businesses and a partnership with Jio.

He said that the pandemic accelerated digital transformation and Meta is benefitting from the transition from offline to online and that transition continues to be well underway.

Mohan also said that while both Facebook and Instagram are growing “really fast” in India, the momentum has been especially driven by Reels on Instagram which is also there on Facebook now.

“So we benefit from the same emergence of short form videos, a very attractive format, Facebook benefits from it as well. But the momentum on Instagram in the last two years has been stellar,” he added.

On talks of India coming out with new rules to regulate social media platforms and its creators, Mohan said the company has been “quite vocal” that it becomes regulation. “I do think we now have a thoughtful engagement with stakeholders in a complex environment where technology is evolving. We want to make sure that all of us equally contribute to building a safe and responsible internet in India. I think it is in our interest to make sure users are safe,” he said.

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