Google on Wednesday signed an agreement to invest Rs 33,737 crore ($4.5 billion) in Jio Platforms Ltd, taking a 7.73 percent stake in the company, pending regulatory review in India.
This is the first investment from the Google For India Digitization Fund, announced earlier this week, and the Us technology giant said it aimed to accelerate India’s digital economy over the next 5-7 years through a mix of equity investments, partnerships, and operational, infrastructure and ecosystem investments.
The partnership comes at a critical stage in India’s digitization when changes in technology and network plans have enabled more than half a billion Indians to get online, Google said in a blog post.
At the same time, the majority of people in India still don’t have access to the internet, and fewer still own a smartphone—so there’s much more work ahead, it read.
“Our mission with Android has always been to bring the power of computing to everyone, and we’ve been humbled by the way Indians have embraced Android over recent years.”
“We think the time is right to increase our commitment to India significantly, in collaboration with local companies, and partnership with Jio is the first step.
We want to work with Jio and other leaders in the local ecosystem to ensure that smartphones—together with the apps and services in the Play Store—are within reach for many more Indians across the country.”
“We opened our first Indian campuses in Bengaluru and Hyderabad in 2004. Since then, we’ve made India central to our Next Billion Users initiative—designed to ensure the internet is useful for people coming online for the first time. We’ve improved our apps and services so they’re relevant in more Indian languages and created offline versions for those facing network constraints.
We’ve extended our tools to small businesses, sought to close digital divides with initiatives like Internet Saathi, and we’re increasingly focused on helping India harness AI. More and more, apps we create for India—like GPay or our Read Along language-learning app—influence what we do globally.”
Jio, for its part, has made an extraordinary contribution to India’s technological progress over the past decade, it added.
Its investments to expand telecommunications infrastructure, low-cost phones and affordable internet have changed the way its hundreds of millions of subscribers find news and information, communicate with one another, use services and run businesses, the blog post further added.
Today, Jio is increasing its focus on the development of areas like digital services, education, healthcare and entertainment that can support economic growth and social inclusion at a critical time in the country’s history.
“In partnership, we can draw on each other’s strengths. We look forward to bringing smartphone access to more Indians—and exploring the many ways we can work together to improve Indians’ lives and advance India’s digital economy.”