Facebook India Online Services, which operates a social networking website, reported its revenues for the financial year 2019-20 at Rs 1,277 crore. This is a 43 per cent jump since the last financial year, show regulatory documents sourced from business intelligence platform Tofler.
The company reported a net profit of Rs 136 crore in FY20, a 108 per cent increase from FY19. Total expenses for FY20 were reported as Rs 1,046 crore.
The company’s principal activities, including other business support services, contributed 57.18 per cent to the total turnover. Other information technology and computer services activities contributed 42.82 per cent to turnover.
According to the documents, Ajit Mohan, vice-president and managing director, had an annual remuneration of over Rs 32 crore, which includes a salary of about Rs 10.7 crore and perquisites of over Rs 21 crore.
According to the documents, total dues related to income tax and finance act on account of dispute for assessment years 2012-13 to 2016-17 was about Rs 33 crore. Of this, the amount paid under protest was around Rs 4.5 crore. The forums where these disputes are pending include Customs Excise and Service Tax Appellate Tribunal (CESTAT) and Income Tax Appellate Tribunal (ITAT).
In FY20, Facebook India earned foreign exchange of Rs 695 crore and the foreign exchange outgo was about Rs 28 crore.
India’s digital transformation opportunity and anticipated 850 million smartphone users by 2025 have made the country a very attractive market for big tech companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google. The market opportunities for online commerce in the country are expected to touch $200 billion by 2028 from $30 billion in 2018.
Also, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more Indians are getting online. These transformations are also generating huge amounts of data.
Recently, a joint parliament committee (JPC) looking into the Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019, examined Amazon, Facebook and Google to get their perspective about personal data protection issues.
According to sources, the panel quizzed Facebook about the quantum of their revenue, profit, and tax payouts in India, and asked what portion of their earnings were being used for data security in the country.
During the meeting, it was suggested to the social media platform that it should not draw inferences from the data of its users for commercial benefits of its advertisers or for electoral purposes, according to the sources.
India is the biggest user base for Facebook, with around 328 million users. The firm’s WhatsApp messaging app has 400 million users in India, also the world’s highest.
This year, the company was also caught in the controversy over its political leanings and inability to monitor hate content. In September, Facebook executives had to appear before a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Information Technology for alleged misuse of social media platforms.
Facebook then moved the Supreme Court challenging the summons issued by the Committee of Peace and Harmony of the Delhi Legislative Assembly to appear before it in connection with “allegations” linked to the Delhi riots.
The Supreme Court (SC) directed the Delhi Legislative Assembly panel to not take coercive action against Facebook India and Mohan till October 15, in connection with summons asking him to depose before it on behalf of the firm with regard to the Delhi riots.
In October, the SC ordered that the relief granted to Facebook India and Mohan, in the previous hearing at SC, would continue till the next hearing that was scheduled in December. This month the SC adjourned to January the plea filed by Mohan, challenging the summons issued to him.
Facebook is betting big on India while seeking to play a significant role in the country’s digital transformation. It recently invested $5.7 billion in Reliance Industries’ Jio Platforms and also backed edtech company Unacademy. Last year, it invested in social commerce start-up Meesho.