Facebook eyes equity in Indian tech start-ups, Twitter may follow

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Updated: September 28, 2019 6:58:15 AM

The two-day event also had Kerala government signing MoUs with firms like Oppo, Future Group and Wadhani Foundation, in the presence of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, besides the launch of Adobe Creative JAM.

Close on the heels of the keynote address by Mohan, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone spoke to the technopreneurs in a live video address.

Facebook has come forward to put direct equity in technology start-ups in India. Not to be left behind, Twitter co-founder Christopher Isaac Biz Stone too has promised to “get involved”.

It was at the opening function of Huddle Kerala-2019, billed as “Asia’s largest tech start-up congregation”, in Kovalam on Friday that the top brass of the two social media giants made this commitment to Indian start-up eco-system.
Ajit Mohan, Facebook’s vice-president and MD for India, made it clear that his company had “shown willingness to make direct investments in technology start-ups in India.” He added that Facebook was “willing to spend time and energy to tap the massive depth of engineering talent in the country”.

Close on the heels of the keynote address by Mohan, Twitter co-founder Biz Stone spoke to the technopreneurs in a live video address. Referring fondly to his association with Sanjay Nediyara of Sieve Inc, an AI-based project platform for freelancers worldwide, the Twitter co-founder said that he’d also “like to be involved” in the “good work”.

Meanwhile, Mohan went on to recount the first minority investment that FB had done anywhere in the world, in a company called Meesho. What Meesho does is, it leverages on Indian women entrepreneurs, essentially pitching products to their friends and families. It focuses on skill-building and introduction of platforms to start-ups.

According to Mohan, the best thing about the model was it could bring 2,00,000 first-time female entrepreneurs online. “It is an innovation that was coming out of India, which can be exported to rest of the world,” he said, adding that women’s representation in technology is just 30-35% and such initiatives would help close the gender gap.

Huddle Kerala-2019 is organised by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and KSUM (Kerala Startup Mission). As the chief guest, Anil Agrawal, joint secretary, Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), said that other states should replicate the Kerala model in building the start-up ecosystem. “In India, around 1.95 start-ups get registered every hour. In the next month, it could be two start-ups per hour. We have 22,895 registered start-ups in the country as per the records till September. Around 45% of start-ups come from tier-2 and tier-3 cities. About 9% to 10% start-ups have women as founders,” he added.

The two-day event also had Kerala government signing MoUs with firms like Oppo, Future Group and Wadhani Foundation, in the presence of chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, besides the launch of Adobe Creative JAM.

Jitender S Minhas, CEO, IAMAI Startup Foundation, said Kerala is exploring emerging technologies like blockchain.  “No other state has achieved the kind of ecosystem it has created so far,” Minhas said.

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