NEW DELHI: On January 4 this year, Umang Bedi posted a picture of a Tesla factory on Facebook. Five people liked it, one shared it, and no one commented.
That had more or less been the pattern of Bedi’s Facebook activity: infrequent posts (two in January, three in February, three in March one in April...), not many likes, not many shares, and not many comments. Even a post with George Clooney’s picture received just nine likes, one share, and no comment. His posts from the IPL final, for which he was in the stadium, were all out for 60 likes or less.
Until June 3, when Bedi’s new profile photo received 357 likes, four hearts, and 35 comments. That may have something to do with his post four days later. That day Bedi said he was “really excited & energised that I’ll be joining Facebook”. The post got Bedi, who will join the company as its India MD, more response on the social network than all his previous posts put together may not have got: 912 likes, 33 hearts, 24 wows, 366 comments, and 27 shares.
Long story short: if ever a change of jobs led to a change in a person’s social media activity, this one will rank up there with the biggest changes. Of course, the 39-year-old Bedi, who is now serving his notice period as the South Asia MD at Adobe, will also experience a change in work profile that will compare with the change in the reactions to his Facebook posts.
Speaking to HT, Bedi says he was not ready to comment on Facebook products, certainly not before he joins in his new job in the second week of July, but virtual and augmented reality (VI and AI) will play a big role in the future. That may sound just up the alley of someone working for Facebook, whose founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is building his own artificially intelligent assistant.
At the same time, it may not be that far away from Adobe, a company that mostly makes software bought by other companies. “We added VR and AR tools in our Adobe content-producing platforms to help users and creators make the most of these new formats,” says Bedi.
In the short term, though, Bedi may be required to take his mind off virtual reality to pay more attention to the reality of India’s regulations. He has been appointed to the top job at Facebook India at a time when the company may still be reeling from the telecom regulator’s order to shut down Free Basics, which was meant to provide open, low-cost internet connectivity, with free access to select sites and services.
What’s more, Free Basics was banned in India — on the ground that it violated the principle of net neutrality — despite Zuckerberg coming here and saying how the service was a great endeavour to bring unconnected Indians online. Facebook makes money through advertisements targeted at users – more users means more revenue. Soon after Free Basics met its fate, Facebook’s India head, Kirthiga Reddy, who had been the company’s first employee in India, was transferred out.
Stepping into Reddy’s shoes is Bedi, who will make the shift from Koramangala in South Bengaluru to Gurgaon. Bedi has his record at Adobe on his side. The company’s business in India appeared to tee off after the occasional golfer took charge in 2011. Back then Adobe’s India arm was just a research and development unit, with negligible profits, as its product licensing business had hit a roadblock. Five years later, Asia Pacific drives most of the revenue for Adobe and India has the largest chunk of it. Recent collaborations include those with firms such as Flipkart, Jabong, IndiGo and MakeMyTrip. Spurred on by the success, the India R&D unit also gained focus; it now accounts for more than half of the research done at Adobe.
Some day it will be amusing to see research — though it will not be done by Adobe — on how the social media profile of a person changes with a change of jobs.