India top market for rolling out new app features: FB

Over 50 pc of the followers for businesses on Insta are from tier-2, tier-3 cities, making a case for such markets.
Manish Chopra, director-head of partnerships for Facebook India (Meta)
Manish Chopra, director-head of partnerships for Facebook India (Meta)

KOLKATA: India is the most significant country for Meta in terms of all the new things that feature across its platforms - Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, a top company official said.

Meta has also provided a great opportunity for numerous brands and millions of creators to express their creativity and build audiences in India through short-form videos, said Manish Chopra, Director and Head of Partnerships for Facebook India (Meta).

“India is a very critical market for our platforms from multiple dimensions. A lot of new product learning and incubation is done here, and ‘Reels’ is an example of that... this is the market where we have done the most amount of testing of new product features.

“India is the most significant market where the focus is for all the new things that we are doing across Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp,” he said.

Chopra was speaking on the sidelines of Meta’s annual ‘Creator Day’, which was recently held for the first time in Kolkata.

The event celebrates creators and gives them a chance to create, collaborate and learn from each other, he said. Chopra said ‘Reels’ (short-from videos), which was launched two years back, has gained massive popularity in India, including tier-2 and tier-3 cities.

“India is the lighthouse country for ‘Reels’ for Meta globally. As per a new research report, around 200 million people are spending about 45 mins per day on short-form videos, and this figure is estimated to go up to 600 million people.

“Reels is helping creators express their creativity, passion, and build audiences and followers that relate with them through the content,” he said.

Short-form videos have also become a potent medium for brands to promote their products on Facebook and Instagram, the official said.

‘Reels’ provide a different and authentic kind of voice for brands to engage with users, he said.

“Digital advertising is a highly performing means for brands (large and small). It’s an efficient way to grow... In India, more than 50 per cent of the followers for the businesses that are on Instagram are coming from tier-2 and tier-3 cities; so a company can reach out to these markets by being on Instagram and Facebook,” Chopra said.

He also said that a lot of music trends have been happening through short-form videos, as artistes make use of the ‘1 Minute Music’ format on Instagram to get “tremendous” distribution.

“We believe that cricket, Bollywood and music define a lot of culture in India. So, we continue to invest closely with partners who create these IPs (intellectual property),” he said.

Meta had recently announced a partnership with the ICC that would enable people to watch the best match moments and highlights of the Men’s T20 World Cup, through clips on ‘Reels’ on Instagram and Facebook.

On fake profiles and the spread of misinformation on Meta platforms, Chopra said the tech conglomerate takes constant measures to rein in such menace.

“Putting a check on fake profiles and spread of misinformation is a constant area of investment for us. We are proactively taking down millions of fake accounts, and have a large organisation that ensures we are responding appropriately to complaints. We also help users become more secure about their own accounts through new security features,” he said.

Meta must cut 20% jobs, curtail spends on metaverse: Investor

In a sharp criticism of Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, a key long-term investor in the company has said that the social network needs to reduce more headcounts and stop spending too much on metaverse to get its “mojo back”.

In an open letter on Medium addressing Zuckerberg, Altimeter Capital Chair and CEO Brad Gerstner said Meta needs to re-build confidence with investors, employees and the tech community in order to attract, inspire, and retain the best people in the world.

“In short, Meta needs to get fit and focused.”

On metaverse, he said that people are confused by what the metaverse even means.

“If the company were investing $1-2 billion per year into this project, then that confusion might not even be a problem. You would simply do R&D quietly and investors would focus on the core business and the breakthroughs in AI,” he noted.

Instead, the company has announced investments of $10-15 billion per year into a metaverse project that largely includes AR/ VR/immersive 3D/Horizon World and that it may take 10 years to yield results.

“An estimated over $100 billion investment in an unknown future is super-sized and terrifying, even by Silicon Valley standards,” Gerstner wrote.

He said in order to achieve profits, the company needs to reduce headcount expense by at least 20 per cent by January 1, 2023, reduce annual capex by at least $5 billion from $30 billion to $25 billion and limit investment in metaverse/Reality Labs to no more than $5 billion per year.

Zuckerberg has lined up $10 billion in investment for his metaverse dream.

Gerstner said that in the last 18 months, Meta stock is down 55 per cent (compared to an average of 19 per cent for its big-tech peers).

“Meta’s core business is one of the largest and most profitable in the world with over $45 billion in operating profits last year alone. Moreover, Meta has industry leading capabilities in key future technologies like artificial intelligence and immersive 3D that will help drive new products and future growth,” Gerstner noted.

Meta has abundant financial resources to invest and or return to shareholders, he added.

At Meta, the number of employees is up over three times, from 25,000 to 85,000 employees in just the last four years.

“After all, why not hire more people and invest in more things when the cost of capital was near zero and growth seemed unlimited?” Gerstner asked Zuckerberg.

On reducing headcounts, he said that Meta and other large companies have made it very difficult for startups to hire.

“We are confident that these employees will find replacement jobs and quickly be back to work on important inventions that will move us all forward,” Gerstner said.

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