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Modi effect: Amazon to pour additional $3 billion into India, says Jeff Bezos

Narendra Modi presented the US India Business Council's global leadership award to Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos

Published: Jun 8, 2016 04:59:40 PM IST
Updated: Jun 8, 2016 05:18:57 PM IST
Modi effect: Amazon to pour additional $3 billion into India, says Jeff Bezos
Image: Yuri Gripas / Reuters
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi (L) presents the Global Leadership Award to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos at the U.S.-India Business Council (USIBC) 41st annual Leadership Summit in Washington, U.S., June 7, 2016

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said on Tuesday that the American online retail giant would invest an additional $3 billion in India, boosting the company's committed investment in the country to $5 billion.

Amazon’s investment decision was a vote of confidence for Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who presented the US India Business Council’s global leadership awards to Bezos and Sun Pharmaceuticals founder Dilip Shanghvi.

“This award is a recognition of the fact that we have already created some 45,000 jobs in India and continue to see huge potential in the Indian economy,” Bezos told the USIBC summit in Washington headlined by Modi, who also met on Tuesday with President Barack Obama.

“Our team is surpassing even our most ambitious planned milestones, and I’m pleased to announce today that we’ll invest an additional US $3 billion on top of the US $2 billion that we announced in 2014, bringing our total investment in India to over US $5 billion.”

As Amazon stumbles in China, unable to steal market share away from Alibaba’s home-grown Chinese sites like Taobao and Tmall, India rises as its biggest overseas opportunity. For more than a decade, Amazon has tried with little success to become a big e-commerce player in the world’s most populous country, China. Now it’s becoming clear that Amazon boss Bezos has his eyes on India.

That’s probably part of the reason Amazon is going to pour $3 billion into its Indian online store which is growing at a tear after being launched in 2013.

“India is Amazon's fastest growing region. I can assure you it’s only the beginning and as we say in Amazon, it’s only day one," Bezos said.

Bezos said the investments would help start-ups in India and accelerate the country's role as a hub for innovation and digital entrepreneurship. The king of e-commerce talked about how he had a “soft corner” for small entrepreneurs as he was one too, not very long ago. For nearly a year, Bezos and a crew of five employees worked out of his garage setting up Bezos is now the world's fourth-richest man.

In keeping with his blueprint to help small entrepreneurs in India with logistics, Bezos said Amazon is expanding its Fulfillment by Amazon service, which provides storage, parking and shipping for independent merchants selling products on Amazon’s website. Bezos said Amazon had so far built 21 fulfillment centers with more than 5 million cubic feet of storage space.

Bezos also said Amazon would open a Web Services Cloud Region in India this year and the country would soon become home to the firm's largest software engineering and development center outside of the US.

“We have barely scratched the surface of this vast country,” reflected Bezos.

“Soon India will be home to our largest software engineering development center outside the United States,” Bezos said referring to Amazon’s planned facility in Hyderabad.

Apple is also setting up its first technology development center outside the US and has chosen India's IT hub Hyderabad for the same. Meanwhile, Google's Sundar Pichai had said the company plans to open South Asia's biggest campus and its only facility outside the US in Hyderabad in the next few years. Apple, Amazon, Google, and Uber have queued up to have their second largest development centers, outside the US, in Hyderabad all within a radius of 10 kilometers.

Amazon’s India business is being run by Amit Agarwal, one of only a handful of Amazon employees who have worked as one of Jeff Bezos’s “shadows.”

“These shadows, or “technical advisors,” work side by side with Bezos and often end up in some of the most critical roles at Amazon after their Bezos master class is over. Agarwal held this role from 2007 to 2009,” noted Recode.

Bezos said Amazon’s link-up with India Post had helped it to reach all serviceable postal codes in the country. A survey in March revealed that consumers in India trust Amazon’s brand more than any other web retailer. Amazon competes with Indian e-commerce companies like Flipkart and Snapdeal.

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