The General Atlantic-Jio deal could act as a catalyst for the movement to develop an Atmanirbhar Bharat that the Prime Minister spoke of
Rarely does an opportunity present itself in the Indian business arena when all of us can truly go vocal about local not simply out of a sense of patriotism but genuine pride at the achievement. The recent General Atlantic-Jio Platforms deal is one such opportunity.
Coming on the back of earlier equity infusions by Facebook, Silver Lake and Vista Equity Partners in Jio, General Atlantic’s decision to invest in the wholly-owned Reliance Industries subsidiary symbolises how some of the biggest names in global business have now started to recognise the brilliance and innovativeness of Indian entrepreneurship. And, importantly, also, pay good prices for a worthy ‘Made in India’ asset. In the case of General Atlantic, this translated into an eye-popping Rs 6,598.38 crore for a 1.34 percent shareholding in Jio Platforms on a fully diluted basis.
The significance of the General Atlantic decision does not end there.
At a time when economies worldwide are reeling under the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic, General Atlantic’s acquisition of a minor stake in the Indian technology platform is proof that marquee investors would not let even adverse circumstances prevent them from keeping their date with an exciting business prospect. Especially, if that happens to be one like Jio, which having already embarked on the transformative journey of improving the lives of more than 1.3 billion Indians (almost 18 percent of the global population), shows all the signs of becoming a potential game-changer worldwide.
The fact that Jio has, in less than four weeks, been able to attract investments to the tune of Rs 67,194.75 crore (inclusive of the General Atlantic commitment) when many companies are finding the going tough in raising funds is a testimony to how positively this Indian brand is now perceived by the movers and shakers in the world of business. The sheer quantum of money raised from General Atlantic alone is enough to highlight the impact that Jio currently has on the minds of those in a position to cut the big cheques.
Bridging Digital Divide
So, what are the ramifications of the General Atlantic investment in Jio for the average Indian customer?
An expanded network, better services, and the likelihood of new and more interesting offerings from the Jio stable are expected in the days ahead as the Reliance outfit likely utilizes its augmented money-chest and General Atlantic’s proven expertise in disruptive businesses to scale up operations and make the digital experience more seamless for people living anywhere in the country. Be that in India or parts of the nation often condescendingly referred to as Bharat. In the process, it will also remove the digital gulf developing among various groups of citizens based on their place of stay.
Common people could also gain from other companies being forced to ramp up their own acts further to counter a more invigorated Jio. Greater competition among different players for an increased market share can only spell good news for customers. And by extension, for the ‘Digital India’ initiative.
Fillip for Atmanirbhar Bharat
The General Atlantic-Jio deal could also act as a catalyst for the movement to develop an Atmanirbhar Bharat that the Prime Minister spoke of while addressing the nation on May 12.
A more strengthened Jio would have the capacity to play a significant role in strengthening each of the 5 pillars – Economy, Infrastructure, Technology-driven System, Vibrant Demography, and Demand – that would form the basis for building a more economically self-reliant India.
Jio could usher in the “quantum jump” that the economy needs, build digital infrastructure and technology-backed systems symbolic of an India on the fast track of growth and development, and also use its platform to enable the country to leverage the demographic dividend and become a major player in the global supply chain.
Ever since it started operations, Jio has always stood out for its ability to not only think big but also out of the box in line with the parent group’s legacy of being the harbinger of change. Given its track-record till date, there can be little doubt that the involvement with General Atlantic could help Jio become one of the brightest stars in the technology sphere worldwide much sooner than originally envisaged.
Sumali Moitra is a current affairs commentator. Twitter: @sumalimoitra. Views are personal.Disclaimer: Reliance Industries Ltd., which also owns Jio, is the sole beneficiary of Independent Media Trust which controls Network18 Media & Investments Ltd.