WhatsApp is looking to hire an India head for the first time ever

Looking for a leader.
Looking for a leader.
Image: Reuters/Jon Nazca
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In India, WhatsApp’s roots are growing deeper.

While the messaging service’s parent company, Facebook, has employees in Hyderabad and Mumbai, the app itself wasn’t as bullish on hiring in India—until now.

The company is now looking for an India head, according to an April 10 job posting on Facebook as well as WhatsApp’s own website. “WhatsApp is seeking an exceptional individual to lead our efforts in India, including products for people and businesses, along with our interest in peer to peer payments,” the company said in its listing.

WhatsApp is looking for someone with “product experience as well as a track record of success leading partnerships and business development in India.”

Payments a key matter

In February 2018, WhatsApp, India’s most popular messaging service with over 200 million active monthly users, rolled out its UPI-based feature in India’s crowded digital payments market. UPI, or Unified Payments Interface, allows users to make intra-bank transfers easily using a virtual ID.

Analysts believe hiring an India-based leader is a significant move as this is the first country where WhatsApp is embarking on the e-payments journey. “It’s important to execute such a service flawlessly and have a leader who understands the Indian market,” Lynnette Luna, principal analyst on the consumer services team at digital media company GlobalData, told Quartz. “WhatsApp has a huge user base in India and it wants to start monetising before others like WeChat get there.”

WhatsApp getting serious about India is a warning bell of sorts. “I think this move to hire a country head is also a very credible signal to Indian payment system firms, notably Paytm, to ramp up their battle plans,” said Anindya Ghose, the Heinz Riehl professor of business at New York University’s Stern school. “It will make the mobile payments market in India a lot more colorful!”

What WhatsApp is looking for

That’s why the ideal candidate will have over 15 years of experience at product-driven companies along with over five years with payment technologies in India. WhatsApp also expects the India head to have startup experience and a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering or sciences or business.

The India head will be based out of Mumbai and will report to the chief operating officer in California, former Yahoo and Facebook executive Matthew Idema.

This isn’t the only role WhatsApp is looking to fill in India: The messaging giant has also begun seeking a communications manager to join its team in Gurugram.