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Entrepreneurs take reins of IAMAI, big tech sidelined for the first time

Harsh Jain's appointment as chairperson of IAMAI has signalled a shift in the association's leadership and organisation's priorities after IAMAI was criticised for aligning with Big Tech's interest

Dream 11 parent Dream Sports raises $840 mn at valuation of $8 bn

BS Web Team New Delhi

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For the first time since the formation of the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI), no big tech members have secured a position in the governing body, allowing Indian digital entrepreneurs to assume full control of the newly formed 24-member council for 2023-25.

The chairperson of the newly elected governing council is Harsh Jain, co-founder and CEO of Dream Sports. Rajesh Magow, co-founder and group CEO of MakeMyTrip, and Satyan Ganjwani, vice chairman of Times Internet, have been elected vice chairman and treasurer of IAMAI. They join IAMAI president Subho Ray to form the association's executive council.

Big Tech firms like Google, Meta (formerly Facebook), Amazon, and Microsoft were not included in the council following recent elections for new office bearers. This development signifies a significant shift in the association's leadership, as big tech firms previously had substantial influence.

According to a report by Money Control, start-ups had accused IAMAI of aligning with Big Tech's interests and acting as their mouthpiece. The domestic digital players strongly opposed the policy stance taken by Big Tech firms on issues such as digital competition policy and regulations for digital firms.

Despite this news reporting a positive outlook for Indian start-ups, industry analysts believe that Big Tech firms will continue to exert influence through their presence in other associations like the US-India Chamber of Commerce and the US-India Business Council, reports the Financial Times. Additionally, the report claims that IAMAI may struggle to present a unified voice on policy matters without the consent of Big Tech firms. If IAMAI fails to maintain a united front, the government may engage with multiple associations on digital matters.

According to media reports, Meta's public policy director Shivnath Thukral made an unsuccessful bid for council membership. At the same time, Google Cloud India's managing director, Bikram Bedi, contested the election in place of the country head & vice president of Google India, Sanjay Gupta.

The new council will assume responsibility at the next annual general meeting. The new governing council includes representatives from various digital companies such as PhonePe, Infibeam Avenues, Shaadi.com, Indian Express, IndMoney, Ixigo, Nazara Technologies, Innov8, MapmyIndia, and Matrimony.com, among others.

What is the IAMAI?

The IAMAI, or Internet and Mobile Association of India, is a not-for-profit industry body that represents the interests of online and digital services companies in India. It was established in 2004 and serves as a platform for internet and mobile companies to come together, discuss common issues, and work towards developing and growing the digital ecosystem in India.

The IAMAI plays a crucial role in advocating for favourable policies and regulations that promote the growth of the digital industry. It works closely with the government, regulatory bodies, and other stakeholders to provide inputs on policy matters, industry standards, and best practices. The association also organises conferences, seminars, and events to facilitate knowledge sharing and networking among its members. The website boasts of being the "only platform solely focused on the internet sector, run by and for the internet companies in India."

Who are the members?

The IAMAI has a diverse membership base comprising various segments of the digital industry, including e-commerce companies, digital content providers, social media platforms, mobile app developers, payment service providers, and online advertising agencies, among others. It has more than 500 Indian and multinational corporations, including major start-ups such as Paytm, Ola, Unacademy and many more.

By representing the interests of its members, the IAMAI aims to foster the growth of the digital economy in India and promote the benefits of the internet and mobile technologies.

Any internet company can apply for membership through the official IAMAI website. They have a 24-member governing council with elections held every two years.

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First Published: May 26 2023 | 10:06 AM IST

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