In episode 325, Tim Culpan from Bloomberg joined us to dissect the most important deal that rocked the Asian business and technology landscape with Facebook investing 5.7B into Reliance Jio. We began the conversation with Tim to set the context behind the deal and what both Facebook & Reliance Jio Platforms stand to gain from this partnership and their ambitions to win the market with a super app concept that is now popular in China & Southeast Asia. Tim also examined the implications to what it means for the Chinese technology giants from Alibaba to Xiaomi in India and the US technology giants such as Google and Amazon. Last but not least, Tim discuss the recent debacles which SoftBank faced with their investments and whether there is a silver lining for the Vision Fund.

Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):

  • Tim Culpan (@tculpan, Linkedin, Bloomberg), Columnist at Bloomberg [0:29]
    • Since our last conversation, what have you been up to? [1:23]
  • Facebook investment in Reliance Jio and its impact on India [2:39]
    • Ref: Facebook and Ambani Can Be Happy Together by Tim Culpan and Why Facebook is betting big in India by Ravi Agrawal (Source: Foreign Policy)
    • To start, Facebook has invested $5.7 billion for a 9.99% stake in India’s Reliance Jio Platforms, a three-and-a-half-year-old subsidiary of the nation’s most valued firm, Reliance Industries, and the biggest telecom operator in the country with more than 370 million subscribers and valued Jio at a pre-money valuation of $65.95 billion, makes Facebook the largest minority shareholder in the Indian telecom network.
    • To help our audience to start the conversation, what does the telco Reliance Jio do and why they are influential in the India telco market? (Note: Mukesh Ambani is the richest tycoon in India – see AA episode 264 with James Crabtree who profiled him and his family in the book “The Billionaire Raj”)
    • What is Jio Platforms and Mukesh Ambani, the person behind Jio Platforms and his ownership of Reliance Industries, the largest Indian conglomerate. [4:38]
    • Why did Facebook invest in Jio? [6:58]
    • How will Facebook extend its influence of its platform (and we include Whatsapp and Instagram) across India through this investment in Reliance Jio? [8:33]
    • How would this partnership between Facebook and Reliance Jio Platforms help the small and medium businesses and jumpstart their Jio Mart initiative? [10:51]
    • Does Jio Mart will built or be built into the super app under Whatsapp based on this alliance? [13:25]
    • What does this alliance between Facebook and Reliance mean for the China tech giants (Bytedance, Alibaba via Paytm, Xiaomi and Tencent) in Indian market? [15:00]
    • Will Google and Amazon consider the same path now that Facebook did the investment? [18:10]
    • What does Reliance Jio gain from the alliance with Facebook in India? [19:51]
    • How will ecommerce or the mobile landscape change in India with this alliance? [21:25]
    • What does this mean for China and US tech giants entering into India which is becoming more protectionist in the past two years? [22:44]
  • Will SoftBank’s Vision Fund fail in the end? [25:31]
  • Closing  [37:01]
    • Any book or stuff to recommend? [37:19]
      • Tim’s recommendations: dance music in the 1980s, 1990s & 2000s and Youtube
    • Where can our audience find you? [38:01]

Podcast Information:

The show is hosted and produced by Carol Yin (@CarolYujiaYin) and originally created by Bernard Leong (@bernardleong, Linkedin). Sound credits for the intro music: Taro Iwashiro, “The Beginning” from Red Cliff Soundtrack.