Facebook India Managing Director Umang Bedi has stepped down from the post about 16 months after he joined the social media company. Sandeep Bhushan, director, consumer and media for South Asia at Facebook, has been appointed the interim managing director, the company said on Tuesday.
Bedi joined Facebook
from Adobe India
in July 2016, at a time when the company’s grand plans to launch its ‘Free Basics
in India’ project had been halted by the telecom regulator over the net neutrality issue.
Sources said Bedi was likely to start a technology-based venture soon.
“We confirm that Umang Bedi
will be leaving his role at Facebook
at the end of this year. He’s built a really strong team and business during his time with us, and we wish him all the best,” Facebook
said in a statement. Bedi was not immediately available for comment.
According to sources close to the company, Bedi was given the task of salvaging the brand image of the company and come up with solutions to generate new streams of revenue as well as launch variations of Free Basics
He was instrumental in launching another product under its Internet.org
programme, Express Wi-Fi.
The company tied up with Bharti Airtel
to launch as many as 20,000 hotspots, the term for a physical location where people can get internet access, typically using Wi-Fi, via a wireless local area network.
Unlike Free Basics
that provided access to selected websites for free, Express Wi-Fi
works on a ‘paid’ model. The access is not restricted to any particular website. Users can log into Wi-Fi hotspots
and buy daily, weekly or monthly data packs. India is the second-largest user base for Facebook
globally, after the US.
Bedi is the second top executive to quit Facebook
India in the past two years. His exit comes at a critical juncture when Facebook
is facing a global backlash for being used as a platform to disseminate fake news.
In the US, it has been accused of selling advertisements to Russians to influence the 2016 US elections.
In India, Facebook
launched early this month an online and offline marketing campaign educating users to identify fake news
on its platform and on the Internet.
Bedi also put a chunk of its resources in the digital advertisement space.
“The opportunity on social is focused on driving three types of outcomes for our original equipment manufacturers (OEM) advertisers in that space. We at Facebook
can provide 5 per cent incremental reach over television at one-seventh the cost, which is an efficient way of giving additional reach to the customers. It is a targeted personalised reach,” Bedi told Business Standard in an earlier interview.
Bedi took over Facebook’s India business from Kirthiga Reddy, who moved to the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, US. Prior to joining Facebook, he had served as the managing director of the South Asia region at Adobe.