Facebook just made a major play in the telecom industry by investing $5.7 billion to pick up a 9.99% equity stake in India’s Jio Platforms, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Jio. Jio fundamentally altered India’s telecom industry in the last four year, and with 388 million subscribers, it is now the leading cellular network in the country.
Facebook wants to turn WhatsApp into an e-commerce platform, and that starts with JioMart.
At a first glance, it doesn’t make much sense for Facebook to invest in Reliance, but the social networking giant has a clear strategy here: Facebook wants to bring JioMart — Jio’s small business platform — to WhatsApp, enabling users to connect with businesses. With over 400 million users, India is WhatsApp’s largest market by some margin, and Facebook is now looking to use that scale to turn the platform into an e-commerce destination.