The Future of the Internet is Indian: CNN Featured Story
India has more unconnected people than any other country, and other features that make it the biggest opportunity in global tech today.
The internet boom has also produced several Indian startups with multi-billion dollar valuations that are more than holding their own. Ola operates its ride-hailing service in about 110 Indian cities — 80 more than Uber. Flipkart controls an estimated 40% of India's online retail market, compared to Amazon's 32% share. And Paytm, India's leading digital payments firm, has racked up more than 300 million users in eight years.
"We are companies that [have] generated in the internet age," Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma told CNN Business. "I think the internet will become the key driver of social and economic growth of this country."
When Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway picked up a stake in Paytm this year — its first investment in an Indian company — it joined backers like Chinese tech giant Alibaba and Japan's SoftBank, which also has a stake in Ola. Flipkart is now controlled by US retailer Walmart (WMT), which paid $16 billion for a 77% stake earlier this year.
Another big Chinese tech firm, Tencent (TCEHY), has stakes in both Flipkart and Ola. Disney is in the process of getting its hands on India's top streaming platform Hotstar and more than 75 million monthly active subscribers as part of its deal to buy most of 21st Century Fox.
Whichever side the government comes down on, that market is only going to get bigger — and fast. Google's Anandan estimates that India will hit 800 million users by 2022 at the latest. "So essentially we are three to four years away from having the user base that China has," he said.
That means that for the tech industry, India is the world's oyster.
"The reality is only 30% of India's market is online today. The real India that needs the internet, that can benefit from the internet is not yet online," Anandan added. "In many ways we are in day zero of the Indian internet."
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