Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos took to Twitter yesterday to express confidence in the company's growing relationship with India after a meeting with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and vowing to continue investing in its growing ecommerce mega-market.
According to HuffPost India, Bezos was part of a round table discussion with the Prime Minister that included, among others, Google's Sunder Pichai, Cicso's John Chambers, and Apple CEO Tim Cook. Amazon is fighting for its share of what analytics company Forrester is predicting will be a $48 billion market by 2020. TechCrunch notes that India's online population currently hovers around around 450 - 465 million.
Amazon has had a presence in India for the last four years as part of its global expansion and, in addition to launching its Prime and Prime video services, has set up 41 fulfillment centers across 13 states in order to serve its customers. This was not unexpected at all: when meeting with Prime Minister Modi last year, Bezos vowed to pour $3 billion into Amazon's India operations. Much of this was motivated by the need to compete with with FlipKart, which challenged Amazon's claim of being the most visited ecommerce site in India during a rather public display of dueling data in late 2015. Flipkart raised $71 million in funding this month from South African media giant Naspers.
While not mentioning Amazon directly, Prime Minister Modi penned an optimistic editorial in the Wall Street Journal yesterday praising the United States and India as "mutually reinforcing engines of growth and innovation." He also wrote that:
"The transformation of India presents abundant commercial and investment opportunities for American businesses. The rollout of the Goods and Services Tax on July 1 will, in a single stroke, convert India into a unified, continent-sized market of 1.3 billion people. The planned 100 smart cities, the massive modernization of ports, airports, and road and rail networks, and the construction of affordable housing for all by 2022—the 75th anniversary of India’s independence—are not just promises of great urban renewal within India. These plans also showcase the enormous fruits of our relationships with enterprising U.S. partners—worth many billions of dollars over the next decade alone—together with concomitant new employment opportunities across both societies."
India is not Amazon's only global target for expansion. The company has plans to move into Australia and Southeast Asia and, in a deal said to have been worth upwards of $650 million dollars, acquired Middle Eastern ecommerce company Souq.com, which had been called "the Amazon of the Middle East." Indeed, Amazon's global recognition is part and parcel of its success in the Indian subcontinent and beyond.
Bezos is not alone in his confidence. Forbes writes that at a recent Silicon Dragon event in New York City, Amazon was chosen by a panel of venture capitalists as the leader in companies "best poised to lead in tomorrow's tech landscape."