Homegrown startups take on Google, Facebook for 'India's digital dreams'

CIOReviewIndia Team | Thursday, 01 October 2020, 16:08 IST

startupvideoconferenceIndian startup founders attended via a Zoom call in the early part of this week for discussing to setup a startup collective for fighting the power of Big Tech, give shape to digital policy and a lobby on behalf of digital enterprises of India.

56 founders participated in the Zoom call, which took place on Tuesday evening, where discussions were done regarding the alternative of Alphabet Inc owned Google Play Store, the supremacy of large tech corps like Facebook, and they joined hands for getting their voice heard by the government and the global behemoths.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder, Paytm, said, “We, the country’s digital startups, need to have a joint voice so that the government and the people will listen. We can’t let all of India’s digital dreams get controlled by one or two global companies.

This is equivalent to the efforts in the United States, where an uprising of startups is gathered to protest against the domination of Google and Apple Inc. app stores and the amount they charge. In addition to this, the United States antitrust committee is on the verge of finalizing a report after a 15 month investigation into Google, Apple, Amazon.com Inc. and Facebook. China, is also considering an antitrust probe against Google for using its Android mobile operating system for suppressing competition, as per Reuters reports on Wednesday.

This group is toying with several names for the collective which includes the India Internet Foundation and the Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation. Atmanirbhar, which means self-sufficient, is a key pillar of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s post-pandemic economic policy. There are plans for the founders to meet again for mapping the next steps.

The immediate provocation for the meeting was regarding Google’s announcement earlier this week, which will start charging newer categories of online services like education, health, and dating a 30 percent fee for payments made within its app system. India’s app ecosystem is monopolized by the Mountain View-based giant whose android hass 95+ percent market share.

The attendees included Yanish Dahiya from Policybazar, Harshil Mathur from Razorpay and Vishal Gondal from GOQii.

GOQii Gondal said, “India is a large enough country and its digital ecosystem is growing. We can’t let foreign companies dictate how we do business. Hundreds of startups are keen on joining the collective whose informal membership count has crossed 150.”

The Indian group is under consideration of lobbying with the government for global technology companies like Google and Facebook, which have become ‘local’ much in the way US President Donald Trump is demanding the restructuring of ByteDance’s TikTok. It would involve getting Google and Facebook for incorporating local entities which are listed in the local stock markets and are governed by local legislation and policy.

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