Meta appoints new India chief amid key departures in its biggest market

Meta appoints new India chief amid key departures in its biggest market

Meta has appointed Sandhya Devanathan to lead its India business after several high profile departures in the key overseas market.

The social behemoth said Thursday that Devanathan, who joined the company in 2016 and helped grow the company’s business in Singapore and Vietnam, was appointed head and vice president of Meta India. Devanathan. In 2020, Devanathan moved on to lead the company’s gaming efforts in the Asia-Pacific region.

In his new role, which begins Jan. 1, Devanathan will report to Dan Neary, vice president of Meta Asia-Pacific. The new reporting hierarchy is a change for the company, which previously saw Indian executives report directly to US executives.

“Devanathan will focus on aligning the organization’s business and revenue priorities to serve its partners and customers, while continuing to support the long-term growth of Meta’s business and engagement in India,” said Meta in a release.

With over half a billion Indians using Meta services, the US giant identifies India as its biggest market by users.

Facebook’s family of apps, including Instagram and WhatsApp, have grown the fastest in India in recent years, integrating hundreds of millions of users. It has also made a series of ambitious investments in the country, including cutting a $5.7 billion check to Indian telecommunications giant Jio Platforms and ramping up WhatsApp’s commerce engine.

“India is at the forefront of digital adoption and Meta first launched many of our best products, such as Reels and Business Messaging, in India. We are proud to have recently launched JioMart on WhatsApp, which is our first end-to-end shopping experience in India,” Marne Levine, Chief Commercial Officer of Meta, said in a statement.

“I am delighted to welcome Sandhya as the new leader for India. Sandhya has a proven track record of building businesses, building exceptional and inclusive teams, driving product innovation and creating strong partnerships. We are delighted that she is leading the continued growth of Meta in India.

The new appointment comes at a time when Meta has seen several key departures in India in recent weeks. Ajit Mohan, the former head of Meta India, left the company late last month to join rival Snap as president of the start-up’s Asia-Pacific business.

Abhijit Bose, director of WhatsApp India, and Rajiv Aggarwal, public policy director of Meta India, resigned earlier this week.

Even though parent company Meta has increased its finances in India in recent years, the company’s WhatsApp service has been slow to gain momentum in the country’s mobile payments market.

“WhatsApp Pay has got to be India’s biggest failure as a tech product,” tweeted Ashneer Grover, the flamboyant entrepreneur who co-founded fintech startup BharatPe. “Everyone has WhatsApp on their phone – sending money on WhatsApp using UPI is as easy as sending photos. It should have beaten Paytm, PhonePe and Google Pay,” he added.

WhatsApp, which sued the Indian government last year over recent regulatory changes, has struggled to obtain regulatory clearance from the National Payments Corporation of India, the payments body that oversees the wildly popular UPI instrument, to expand its mobile payment service to its entire user base of more than 500 million users in the country.

Earlier this year, NPCI authorized WhatsApp to roll out WhatsApp Pay to 100 million users in India. Meanwhile, WhatsApp has also come under fire from some users for not putting enough safeguards in place to prevent companies from spamming them on the app.

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