Hotstar, Tata Sky execs in race to lead Facebook's India ops

Hotstar, Tata Sky execs in race to lead Facebook's India ops
Photo Credit: Reuters
29 May, 2018

Three senior digital entertainment executives and a bureaucrat are reportedly in the race to head the Indian operations of US-headquartered social networking giant Facebook. 

According to a report in The Times of India, Facebook's global vice-president for global marketing solutions, David Fischer, is in India and has been interviewing candidates for the job.

Citing unnamed sources, the report said that the shortlisted candidates include Star India managing director Sanjay Gupta, Tata Sky managing director Harit Nagpal, Hotstar chief executive officer Ajit Mohan and former Karnataka IT secretary Srivatsa Krishna.

Talent acquisition firm Spencer Stuart is said to have been hired to help with the process. 

The report further stated that the selected candidate will be given a vice-president level designation at the Mark Zuckerberg-led company.

The previous individuals who led Facebook's India operations - Kirthiga Reddy and Umang Bedi - were both managing directors.

The report further said that the annual compensation for the role has been hiked to around Rs 13.5 crore per year along with stock options. 

As per the job description posted by Facebook, the selected candidate will be responsible for sales & marketing, partnerships, corporate and government engagement. The person will report to Fischer.

The top job does not include responsibilities related to messaging service WhatsApp and photo-sharing app Instagram, which are both owned by Facebook.

WhatsApp has reportedly been looking for a head for its Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments platform in India since April.

Privacy concerns

Facebook currently has 217 million daily active users in India.

The social network has been trying to allay concerns over data privacy after a whistleblower claimed that Cambridge Analytica, a London-headquartered political consultancy and data analytics firm, had used data collected from millions of Facebook profiles to gain an understanding of American voter behaviour

The information gathered was then allegedly used to send targeted advertisements to American voters in 2016 urging them to elect Donald Trump, who eventually won his bid for the US presidency.

Facebook said last month that the personal information of up to 87 million users, mostly in the United States, may have been improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica

The incident had triggered global outrage and multiple government inquiries in the US and the UK in particular over Facebook's handling of user data.  

In the aftermath, Zuckerberg had said the social network would help ensure fair elections in India.

However, Facebook India's director Sandeep Bhushan said last week that there had been no reduction in advertising spends nor had customers' budgets gone down in the wake of the controversy

Cambridge Analytica and its British parent SCL Elections Ltd announced earlier this month that they would shut down immediately.