July 03--NEW DELHI --
In her first visit to India as a Facebook executive, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg also said that the Menlo Park, California-based company is in the process of monetizing its business in India, having brought at least 900,000 small and medium businesses online.
"Globally one of the best ways we take people and get them to be paying customers is (that) they start using pages and then up-sell into advertising. We're already seeing that happen in India," Sandberg said in a discussion with reporters.
Even as Facebook attempts to convince more companies such as
"This stuff is in its really early, nascent stages, but we're making serious investments because people who don't have connectivity..., we want them to have connectivity," said Sandberg, who has previously served as chief of staff to then Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers in the Clinton administration.
Facebook, which currently has a partnership with India's largest telecom firm
For this service, Facebook has partnered with Indian start-up ZipDial Mobile Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Sandberg, who is widely seen as one of the most influential figures in Silicon Valley and has also worked as vice- president at
Facebook, which has tried to go beyond its social networking roots by acquiring companies such as WhatsApp and Oculus, is betting heavily on the Indian online advertising market to drive growth.
"We really want to invest here because the returns are so great both for our local and global business," said Sandberg. "As people are spending more time on digital, marketers will go there....The users we have in the US represent a large portion of the US population. The 100 million that we have in India do not represent a large portion of the Indian population, which means there's such huge opportunity for growth here."
Facebook will look to drive growth in the country through partnerships with the government, companies and non-profit organizations, she said.
Sandberg, who is expected to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit to India, also said Facebook currently has no hardware aspirations, unlike rival technology giant Google Inc.
"I don't think we need to make hardware or phones," said Sandberg. "We're doing very well with software-based products and that's what we do."
Facebook may consider having a research and development (R&D) base in India, Sandberg said.
"Our R&D base has expanded slowly -- as of three years ago, we only had Palo Alto, California. We are just in the process of opening remote engineering locations and I think we will continue to consider possibilities and obviously continue to consider India as well," Sandberg said.