What Is Jio, and Why Are Tech’s Biggest Players Suddenly Obsessed With It?

Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all want a slice of this tech pie

Sarvesh Mathi
Debugger
Published in
10 min readAug 4, 2020

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People on bicycle passes by a Jio store in Kolkata, India, 13 July, 2020. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Jio is a household name in India, and it’s finally getting some attention in the rest of the world. The young tech company is not just weathering the Covid-19 storm, but thriving in it. In the last four months, the company has raised over $20 billion from a list of high-profile investors at a time when many companies are struggling to stay afloat.

To put this unparalleled fundraising in context, Jio has raised more money in four months than the entire Indian start-up ecosystem raised in 2019, combined.

The fundraising streak began in April, when Facebook invested $5.7 billion to take an enormous 10% stake in the company. Soon after, a steady stream of private equity firms joined the foray. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Mubadala, and Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, all sovereign funds of major Middle Eastern countries, also pitched in. Reliance, Jio’s parent company, became net debt-free nine months before its targeted date, and it appeared as if the investment spree had ended.

The latest name added to this growing list is Google, which invested over $4.5 billion for a 7.7% stake on July 15. That’s nearly half of the total amount that Google pledged to invest in India over the next 5–7 years.

Industry experts speculate that Microsoft will also soon jump on this bandwagon, but the company has yet to officially confirm this. Although, it has already signed partnerships with Jio on other fronts, including the expansion of its Azure cloud business in India.

Investments in Jio Platforms as of 15 July 2020. Image source: News 18 Creative

For a company that’s just over four years old, these investments may seem astounding, but the fact that tech conglomerate Jio is owned by the mighty Reliance puts anything in the…

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