India MD, Technology News, ETtech

Facebook will invest in more Indian startups, deals likely soon: India MD
Social media giant Facebook is making exceptions in a market like India by making ‘minority investments’ in the startup ecosystem here and over the next few weeks and months will have more announcements to make about investments in the space, Ajit Mohan, MD, Facebook India said in an interview to ET.

After investing in social commerce platform Meesho last year, Facebook announced its second investment in learning platform Unacademy last week.

Mohan said Facebook will make more investments in companies that are ‘creating huge disruption which is good for India.’

“There is momentum building up on our investment programme here. These minority investment programmes are part of a larger strategy in India that is quite investment heavy; that is quite focused on entrepreneurship,” he said.

In June last year, Facebook had announced an equity investment in reselling platform Meesho, and while the company did not divulge the quantum of investment, ET had reported that the investment was in the range of $20-25 million. Learning platform Unacademy had announced last week that it had raised a new round of funding of $110 million with new investors such as Facebook, General Atlantic along with Sequoia India, Nexus Venture Partners, Steadview Capital, and Blume Ventures.

‘Facebook doesn’t normally make minority investments, in startups, anywhere in the world…Hence, India in many ways is an exception. And we started last year with the objective of, saying how can we help accelerate the entrepreneurship and startup agenda in the country over and beyond of what we do as the Facebook family of apps every day,” said Mohan.

Mohan said the company is not looking at these investments from a sectoral point of view. In 2019, Facebook also announced the VC Brand Incubator initiative to accelerate the growth of early-stage small and medium businesses in India by collaborating with venture capital funds. In the past, the VC Brand Incubator programme has tied up with various venture capital funds such as Sauce.VC, Fireside Ventures, and SAIF Partners.

Mohan said while Meesho is doing ‘tremendous work’ in bringing female entrepreneurs online for the first time, the live clas format stands out for Unacademy- which has more than 18 million learners and about 10,000 educators.

“The pattern that you should read from these two investments and some of the new ones that are going to be announced is not that we’re looking at specific sectors and saying, how can we invest in sectors or make investments that have some kind of a specific self interested agenda for our family of apps,” he said.

“I think the, the big thematic is, can these companies create huge disruption that’s good for India and are they exploring models that are critical for India? So, it happens to be that one of them was social commerce and the current one is education, but it is not led by the category. Instead it’s led by the theme of how can we be helpful to disruptive models that are really good for India,” he added.





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