Aggressive on tapping the multi-billion dollar opportunity in the Indian SME market, Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is scheduled to make her maiden trip to the country as the social networking giant deepens ties in its second-largest market.
Sandberg, who will be in India in the last week of June, is scheduled to meet small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Hyderabad, followed by a media round-table in the national capital next month.
“She will be coming to India later this month but we are not in a position to share the details yet,” an official from the company said.
India is the largest market for Facebook outside the US, with over 100 million users. The company has been aggressively hunting for new avenues to increase advertising revenue and the SME sector in India, which has over 25 million firms, could play a crucial role.
Facebook’s revenue for the first quarter of 2014 rose to USD 2.5 billion from USD 1.46 billion a year earlier. Revenue from advertising was USD 2.27 billion, an 82 per cent increase from the same quarter last year, with mobile ads accounting for about 59 per cent.
Sandberg is also expected to meet developers at the company’s headquarters in Hyderabad. Sandberg, who oversees business operations, including sales and marketing, business development and public policy, may also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is an ardent social media supporter and utilises Facebook and Twitter extensively in his communications, and government officials.
Powered by burgeoning smartphone adoption and increasing Internet penetration in the country, Facebook has seen a meteoric rise in its user base since setting up its first office in India in 2010 in Hyderabad.
Back then, it had about 8 million users in the country. According to Facebook, 84 million of its 100 million users in India access the social networking site from mobile devices.
The company, headquartered in Menlo Park, California, has already projected that growth will come from mobile as more users in emerging markets, especially India, log on to the site through handheld devices.
Set up by Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 from a college dorm, Facebook had 1.28 billion users worldwide as of March 31. Sandberg, who was with Google before joining Facebook in 2008, has been named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine. A Harvard Business School alumnus, Sandberg has served as chief of staff for Undersecretary for International Affairs of the US Department of the Treasury Larry Summers in the Bill Clinton administration.