Social networking giant Facebook said on Monday that it has appointed Ajit Mohan, currently chief executive officer of local video streaming service Hotstar, as the head of its Indian operations.
Mohan will take up the newly-created role of India managing director and vice-president early next year, Facebook said in a statement. India is Facebook's biggest market, with more than 250 million active users.
Facebook said that Mohan's position was created specifically to align its entire India operations and strategy. The firm further said that Mohan will be responsible for driving the company's continued investment in India and will look to strengthen the relationships with people, businesses, and government.
“India is one of the largest and most strategically important countries for Facebook... we know that investment in India is critical,” said David Fischer, vice-president of business and marketing partnerships at Facebook. “Ajit’s depth of experience will help us to continue to have a positive impact in India across communities, organizations, businesses and with policymakers.”
Mohan has been Hotstar’s CEO since April 2016. Before that, he was with management consulting firm McKinsey and Company in New York.
His appointment brings to an end a hiring process that began around seven months ago. Industry experts had earlier said that it was proving difficult for Facebook to find a person for the job as it had to make up lost ground with the government. Data privacy concerns have delayed the rollout of the payments service piloted by WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned instant messaging platform. Before that, Facebook's Free Basics initiative fell foul of the government in 2016.
Umang Bedi and Kirthiga Reddy had previously steered Facebook’s operations in India. Both individuals had quit after one-year stints. Bedi resigned in October last year and now serves as president of news aggregation platform Dailyhunt.
In contrast to his predecessors, Mohan will report directly to Menlo Park instead of the Asia-Pacific region head.