Alphabet Inc’s Google will spend around $10 billion in India over the next five to seven years through equity investments and tie-ups, marking its biggest commitment to a key growth market.
The investments will be done through a digitization fund, highlighting Google’s focus on the pace of growth of apps and software platforms in India, one of the world’s biggest internet services markets.
“We’ll do this through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments,” Sundar Pichai, CEO of Alphabet, said on a webcast during an annual “Google for India” event.
Focus of the fund
# Enabling affordable access to the internet and to information for every Indian in their own language
# Building new products and services that are relevant to India’s needs including consumer tech, education, health and agriculture
# Empowering businesses especially small and medium businesses as they continue or embark on their digital transformation
# Leveraging technology and AI for social good, including digital literacy, outbreak predictions, and support for rural economies
The new $10 billion investment was the largest Google had done in India, Sundar Pichai said.
“We’re particularly focused on making sure the internet expands beyond English and other vernacular languages. That’s an important angle we’ve looked at,” he told Reuters in an interview.
Google wants to bolster the growth of internet in India, which currently has over 500 million active users, and help get another 500 million people online, Sundar Pichai said.
Beyond investments via the fund, Google, would also focus on areas like artificial intelligence and education in India, he added.
Google has already made some direct and indirect investments in Indian startups such as local delivery app Dunzo.
Indian-born Sundar Pichai joined Google in 2004, and is widely credited for making the Chrome browser. He replaced company co-founder Larry Page as CEO of parent Alphabet last year.
The U.S. tech group, whose Android mobile operating system powers a bulk of India’s roughly 500 million smartphones, will continue to work with manufacturers to build low-cost devices so that more and more people can access the internet, another Google executive said.
“Over the last several years, under the “Next Billion Users” initiative, Google has solved for India by understanding the challenges of India better and building products and solutions that can help Indians get more out of the Internet,” Sanjay Gupta, country head and vice president, Google India, said.
Sapna Chadha, senior country marketing director, Southeast Asia & India, Google, said Google will partner with CBSE to train over 1 million teachers in 22,000 schools across India by the end of 2020, to deliver blended learning that combines the classroom approach with online learning, using free tools like G Suite for Education, Google Classroom, YouTube and more.
She also announced a new Google.org grant of $1 million to Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF) as part of the Global Distance Learning Fund. Kaivalya Education Foundation (KEF) will work with the Central Square Foundation and TeacherApp to train 700,000 teachers to deliver virtual education for students.