A new country head, the search for which is on, will be designated managing director and vice president (MD & VP), India and, to begin with, will report to David Fischer, Facebook’s global VP of business and marketing partnerships, who’s based in the company’s US headquarters. Fischer is leading the headhunt for a new chief in India.
Earlier India heads were designated as MD, India and they reported to Facebook’s Asia-Pacific head in Singapore. Facebook has been without an India head since October 2017.
These moves may eventually lead Facebook’s India operations to get delinked from its Asia Pacific setup, some people familiar with the thinking inside the company said.
Currently, Facebook India’s functional heads for communications, partnerships, marketing, sales reported to Asia Pacific office executives in Singapore.
The company’s previous two India MDs — Umang Bedi and Kirthiga Rao — were mostly responsible for sales, without much of a say in the other functions, people quoted earlier said. Facebook did not respond to a detailed ET questionnaire.
A company internal mail written by Joel Kaplan, Facebook’s vice president of global public policy, says: “India is our fastest-growing market and we’ve concluded as a company that we need to change our organisational structure to set us up for the greatest success”.
Kaplan also writes: “There is significant complexity in the market across multiple functions and operating as an integrated business externally in India has proved challenging.”
Ankhi Das, Facebook’s director of public policy, India, South and Central Asia, and her team, will “report directly to this new VP”. Das, who joined Facebook in 2011 from Microsoft, is regarded by many as Facebook’s most powerful official in India currently, given the market’s growing importance from a policy point of view, as compared to product or even sales, where it contributes less than 1% to Facebook’s overall revenue.
As of March 2017, Facebook India Online Services Pvt Ltd earned about Rs 341.8 crore in revenue for FY 2016-17, a 93% year-on-year increase from FY 2015-16, when it earned a revenue of Rs 177 crore.
“Ankhi [Das] will have a dotted line to me [Kaplan], and her team will also remain connected to me and our global team — continuing to participate in all of the leadership and other policy meetings — to ensure our strategy in India is aligned with our overall policy objectives,” the email said.
Facebook is currently battling perception and policymakers over multiple allegations of misuse of data and privacy.
Last week, Ravi Shankar Prasad, India’s IT minister, told Parliament that the Central Bureau of Investigation has been asked to investigate this matter “with regard to possible misuse by Cambridge Analytica.”
In May, ET and other news publications had reported that several candidates had been interviewed for the job for India head, including Hotstar CEO Ajit Mohan, Star India MD Sanjay Gupta, Tata Sky CEO Harit Nagpal, and former Karnataka IT Secretary, Srivatsa Krishna.