Google is investing in Reliance Jio Platforms, the telecoms and digital subsidiary of Reliance Industries, India’s most valuable company, further indicating the attractiveness of the booming Indian market to US tech brands.

Google will take a 7.73% stake in Jio Platforms for $4.5 billion, said Reliance chairman Mukesh Ambani in comments reported by TechCrunch.

It’s a rare case of Google following its compatriot Facebook in backing the same company – Facebook ploughed $5.7 billion into Jio Platforms in April for a 9.99% stake – which has  amassed more than 400 million subscribers in fewer than four years of existence.  The latest investment is part of a seriously huge funding round for the company, which has raised around $20 billion after selling a third of its equity.

“Getting technology into the hand of more people is a big part of Google’s mission,” Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, told TechCrunch.

“Together we are excited to rethink, from the ground up, how millions of users in India can become owners of smartphones. This effort will unlock new opportunities, further power the vibrant ecosystem of applications and push innovation to drive growth for the new Indian economy,” he said.

For Google, it follows the announcement earlier this week that it would be investing $10 billion in India over the next five years.

The Jio investment signals also that the upstart telco is more than a price-gouging scale builder and adds fuel to talk that the company is interested in entering either the smartphone hardware or operating system businesses, following successes in music streaming and video calling.

There is, of course, another reading, according to some unnamed sources: that Ambani’s proximity to the ruling BJP party in India has added to his digital company’s magnetism as a route to a relaxed regulatory burden.

Sourced from TechCrunch, WARC