How Sanjay Gupta’s digital expertise will prove to be his strength at Google

We take a look at the tasks and challenges awaiting Gupta as Google’s new Country Manager and Vice President of Sales & Operations

e4m by Shikha Paliwal
Updated: Nov 11, 2019 9:48 AM

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Sanjay Gupta

Google couldn’t have found a better fit than Sanjay Gupta to take up the top spot in India. He is no stranger to the digital world, his forward looking vision for the OTT space saw home grown Hotstar race to the number one spot in India and it remains there as the undisputed leader.

While he has proved his mettle at Star and Disney India, as the company’s Managing Director, his new innings at Google, in the role of Country Manager and Vice President of sales and operations, will see him take up a whole new set of challenges.

Gupta will be filling the shoes of Rajan Anandan who quit earlier this year in April and some believe those are pretty big shoes to fill. Anandan’s 8-year stint at Google saw the tech giant grow by leaps and bounds, not only in India but also in South-East Asia. For the time that the post was vacant, Google’s Country Director for sales in India, Vikas Agnihotri, was the interim caretaker.

Gupta’s immediate task has already been spelt out in the company’s press release: "Sanjay will contribute to Google’s ongoing efforts to expand the internet ecosystem in the country, driving internet adoption among consumers and businesses and accelerating innovation.”

As India’s online advertising business grows both in scale and scope, Google’s biggest challenger in this space is Facebook, which has been posting an impressive growth locally with the social media giant reporting a 71 per cent jump in its India business this year. Interestingly, Facebook is headed in India by Ajit Mohan, former Head of Hotstar and onetime associate of Gupta.

With Facebook’s family of apps, Instagram and Whatsapp, racing up the popularity charts in India, it will be interesting to see how Sanjay’s familiarity with the Indian regional markets can help boost Google’s advertising business. Perhaps, Gupta’s understanding of the country’s digital landscape will also prove to be his strength as he slides into the captain’s seat at Google.

Other challenges that Gupta will have to tackle include regulatory issues. Competition Commission of India had earlier this year ordered a probe into allegations of Google using its dominant position in the market to ensure that its apps come pre-installed on Android phones. Besides this, the Indian Government’s stance on data sovereignty, digital taxation of multinationals like Google will also fall into his lap.

In an era where brands are growing increasingly conscious of their brand image vis-à-vis consumers, Gupta is joining Google bang in the middle of the hotly debated issue of political ads on platforms like Google, Facebook, Twitter and others. After Twitter took a stand on banning political ads, it set the precedent for others to follow suit. Facebook has made its stand clear about not banning political ads but is looking to further tweak its policies, all eyes are now on Google.

Another consumer-centric challenge that Gupta will be tasked with is the issue of privacy and data protection. In India too there is a huge trust deficit in the minds of consumers over data protection. While this is a task that is cut out for the company globally, it resonates in India as much as it does across the world.

But Gupta is no stranger to business challenges. In a career spanning three decades he has established a reputation of being a pragmatic problem solver, a convergent thinker and trouble shooter. Those who have worked with him closely have full faith in his leadership qualities.

Speaking about his appointment, Gupta said: “I am delighted to take on the challenge of leading and shaping Google’s charter in India. It is an exciting opportunity to leverage the power of technology to solve some of India’s unique challenges and make Internet an engine of economic growth for people and communities. I am happy to join the passionate teams across Google and look forward to contributing to India’s digital journey as it becomes an innovation hub for the world.”

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