Ajit Mohan, Vice President and General Manager, India, Meta to Aashish, said Meta, which renewed its identity from Facebook last October, will continue to work on creating access to the metaverse offered through devices that enable a more immersive version of the Internet. Aryan and Pranav Mukul in an interview. He also spoke about the future of online advertising in the metaverse and the company’s plans for the upcoming Indian Premier League broadcast rights auction. Edited excerpts:
Given that political ads represent a small percentage of your earnings and the heat they bring in through claims of platform bias, how does the cost-benefit ratio work?
I don’t really have an opinion on that. This is, in general, one of the calls we’ve had some time ago. In the context of the role we can play – just as businesses communicate with consumers, we’ve discovered that our platforms are used to advance causes. We have seen that one of the roles we have played in the pandemic is to draw attention to the public health agenda. The code of the platform is that you can build communities and get the message across, so I can imagine the benefit from a campaign perspective as well. When you look at political advertising as a percentage of total (revenue) both in India and in the world, it becomes quite clear that for us the motive is not revenue.
Companies around the world have stepped up their investments in the metaverse. How is the future of online advertising changing in the Web 3.0 and metaverse?
In a very short time, from the time we demonstrated the idea of the metaverse and identity change to Meta, there has been tremendous excitement from entrepreneurs and industry across the spectrum, and I’ve also seen that enthusiasm in India. Leaders instinctively get the power of a more immersive internet and what it means to go from 2D to 3D (2D to 3D), not just from a consumer perspective — with use cases like fitness and gaming — but also from a business perspective, if they can interact with those users in a more comprehensive way. We’ve been very open to saying that we don’t know all the answers at the moment. Since acquiring Oculus in 2014, the company has invested in AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) for some time. We have no illusions that we are building metaverses. We know we will contribute to what will become metaverse and that different companies will create different spaces. It should be interoperable, much more than the mobile internet was. At the same time, we have no illusions that we are OK, whether that’s in terms of technology or how interoperability will work, or even what the different sources of income are. What we do know is that there will be a lot of work on the access side of devices that enable a more comprehensive version of the internet.
Governments and regulators around the world are debating to craft a policy for cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, and what is metaverse? How important is it to define these policies as early as possible?
In the recent release of the Internet, many of these laws and policies had to be put in place after the fact. We’ve seen this tremendous growth and innovation that has had a huge impact on the global economy as well as the ability for people to connect seamlessly. But we also discovered that there are a lot of bad actors that can do a lot of damage. Even in some of our business – we’ve had a lot of foundational product work and policy changes over the past few years on the back of acknowledging that. We have the opportunity to learn from this as we think about how to design the different building blocks that will shape the Metaverse over the next five to ten years. For example, we have built privacy as a core design principle into every feature of the product which will translate well. We need to work proactively with stakeholders, including regulators around the world, to ensure that we build these frameworks in a way that enables innovation but captures the lessons of the past 20 years.
Is Facebook engaged in these conversations regarding policy making in India on these aspects?
Given the nature of the business, so are we. When you look at how deeply we went building Web 3.0 and the Metaverse, a fundamentally different technology, it’s clear we’re dealing with anyone who wants to hear our point. We have found that stakeholders, including governments, are open to discussions in private as they are open to substantive discussions about different viewpoints. This will continue to be the case in Web 3.0 as well.
As a big media company, so to speak, would Meta be interested in buying the broadcast rights to the IPL?
First, I don’t think we are a media company. I think we’re partnering with other media companies, and I hope they’ve seen the value of leveraging our platforms. We ourselves do not consider ourselves a media company. I don’t think we’ll build any particular use cases. We are thinking more in the sense that we can create frameworks and help with core tools on both the software and hardware side that will allow other developers to create compelling use cases for the metaverse. Meta’s role is primarily to build toolkits, empower other partners and developers, and therefore in this context, we do not intend to bid for the rights to the IPL that will open in the coming weeks. It’s the context of the role we see ourselves in, to build the metaverse, and not because we think IPL is not a fancy property. I saw the power of the IPL in building Hotstar.
As for Apple’s privacy changes, there is a $10 billion worldwide impact that Meta said it would see as a result of the new policy. For India, can you provide qualitative or quantitative information about the effect observed by Meta?
There are no numbers to share. What we’ve announced publicly over the past few weeks and what’s to come, it’s clear that we’re working to ensure we’ve resolved some of the cuts to web transformation that have arisen from Apple’s changes. will continue. The only other thing to point out is that Apple or iOS is only a very small share of the total number of devices in India.
When it comes to metaverses, are there any products that you think are changing the look of web 3.0? Have you invested in any of them?
It really is an open canvas. I think the timing of this is very important. When the latest version of the Internet came out, we were in a completely different stage as a country. Few people signed in and the developer ecosystem was way too early. This confidence has now asserted itself thanks to the enormous trading energy that has been unleashed in recent years, with the help of international capital.
As a country, we now have an opportunity to shape the global metaverse. I don’t think it is now about choosing just a few categories. As a country, the opportunity is so great that we cannot be in a better position to create value for ourselves and the world.
Some companies are starting to create use cases. Are they pioneers in this unknown region of the metaverse or do they jump before they look?
I don’t have an opinion on a particular company or use case. We try to articulate our vision of what we are trying to build, the enabling software on the hardware or software side, and we emphasize the desire to build it patiently and intentionally for the long term.