The Indian startups backed by Reliance Industries and Facebook have a lot in common

The Indian startups backed by Reliance Industries and Facebook have a lot in common
  • On Wednesday morning, Facebook picked up 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio for $5.7 billion.
  • The deal is Facebook’s third direct investment in India. And interestingly, its startup investments in India from before are aligned with Reliance’s startup deals and its growth.
  • Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani said that this deal will help both the companies build a digital forward India in a post-Corona world. And their individual investments in India too seem to be aligned for the same goal.
India woke up to its biggest tech deal on Wednesday (April 22) morning as Facebook picked up a 9.99% stake in Reliance Jio for $5.7 billion. This investment puts Jio in the top 5 most valued listed companies at a valuation of $66 billion.

Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani called Facebook as its “long-term partner in continuing to grow and transform the digital ecosystem of India for the benefit of all Indians”.
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The deal is Facebook’s third direct investment in India. Interestingly, its former startup investments in India are aligned with Reliance’s startup deals and its growth.

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Ambani said that this deal will help both the companies build a digital-forward India in the post Corona world. Their individual investments in India too seem to be aligned for the same goal.

E-commerce

One of the significant factors of the deal is that Reliance Retail and WhatsApp are now in a commercial partnership to accelerate the Indian giant’s e-commerce venture – JioMart. Through JioMart and WhatsApp, the entities will now help support consumer businesses.

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“The companies will work closely to ensure that consumers are able to access the nearest kiranas who can provide products and services to their homes by transacting seamlessly with JioMart using WhatsApp,” Reliance said in a statement.

But interestingly, Facebook’s first direct investment in India – Meesho, is a social commerce platform which works as a marketplace for resellers, and connects them with customers via social media channels like WhatsApp and Facebook.

Reliance also placed its bets on two startups that would enable businesses and e-commerce.

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In December 2019, RIL invested $20 million for a majority stake in Nowfloats – a startup that helps businesses and individuals, who don’t have any web developing skills, build an online presence. In August 2019, Reliance picked up a 87.6% stake in Fynd, an e-commerce platform. Fynd was also backed by Google.

It will also be interesting to see how another of Reliance’s acquisition – the AI chatbot startup Haptik, will be involved in the e-commerce growth of the companies in India.

Education

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Reliance and Facebook both have shown an interest in India’s booming online education industry.

Facebook invested in Indian education startup Unacademy in February 2020. “With this investment in Unacademy, we are reinforcing our commitment to the Indian startup ecosystem as well as investing in a company that is transforming learning in India,” Ajit Mohan, VP and MD of Facebook India had then said.

Reliance on the other hand, has been doubling its bets on edtech. In April 2020, Reliance Industries invested an additional ₹500 crore in its education startup Embibe, according to reports. This comes right after a ₹90 crore investment in the startup Ambani made in February. Embibe is an Artificial Intelligence powered learning platform founded in 2012 by entrepreneur Aditi Awasthi and Reliance acquired 73% stake in the startup in April 2018.

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Experts too are betting on the deal. “This deal will empower digital transformation of millions which shall boost not only the digital ecosystem but also the nation. The next 100 million internet users will be easier to get on board thanks to this deal,” said Shrenik Gandhi, CEO and co-founder of digital marketing company White Rivers Media.



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