By Elton Gomes
Facebook has appointed Ajit Mohan as its vice president and managing director for India, persons aware of the development said, the Economic Times reported. Mohan was previously CEO of video service Hotstar. The announcement was made by Star India CEO Uday Shankar in a company town hall, Hotstar sources told the Economic Times.
Mohan’s appointment brings to an end Facebook’s one-year search for an Indian head, a role that became vacant after the exit of managing director Umang Bedi in October 2017. Mohan will take on an enhanced role at Facebook India, after the social media company decided to rejig of its operations in India.
“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 at Facebook, Live Mint reported.
Thrilled over the development, Mohan said: “It is an exciting charter to shape the agenda of a company that, between Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram, has brought the world closer together in one of the most exciting markets in the world. I look forward to championing India in Facebook, to helping accelerate the country’s big leapfrog in technology, and to building deep and meaningful communities across the country,” Business Line reported.
What will Mohan do at Facebook?
In this newly created role, Mohan will lead a senior leadership team at Facebook India, as the social media company makes amends to improve its relationship with people, businesses, and the government.
Mohan, however, will not be responsible for Facebook’s sister companies—Instagram and WhatsApp—which are currently without India heads. WhatsApp recently announced that it has appointed Komal Lahiri as its grievance officer for India.
Mohan will be part of a new structure for Facebook India wherein he will report to a senior leader in Menlo Park, California, and not the Asia Pacific, Facebook’s statement said.
Who is Ajit Mohan?
Mohan started his career with management consultant Arthur D. Little as a consultant in 1997. He then joined McKinsey and Co. as a consultant in 2005 and was later part of the McKinsey Global Institute as a fellow in 2008. Mohan’s association with Star Network began in April 2012, where he worked at different positions, including senior vice president (corporate) and executive vice president.
He was appointed the President and the head of Star India’s online video streaming platform Hotstar in 2015 and was then chosen for the post of CEO in April 2016. Mohan has an MBA in finance from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
Why is this important for Facebook?
Mohan’s expertise in the video industry will benefit Facebook as it looks to invest heavily in online video content. Facebook has been known to purchase rights to stream all of Spanish football’s La Liga matches in India.
Mohan’s appointment is also crucial as it comes at a time when the Indian government is planning to hold social media platforms accountable for misinformation and cyber-bullying.
The Mark Zuckerberg-led firm’s troubles began in India after the country’s telecom regulator chose net neutrality over its Free Basics proposal in 2016. The inability to tackle fake news and privacy concerns after the data scandal with Cambridge Analytica have added to Facebook’s woes in India.
Mohan’s primary challenge will be recovering Facebook’s lost trust. This will be crucial as the company tackles problems like the delay in the launch of its payments platform and the government’s push for data localization.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius
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