BENGALURU: A group of Indian startups and investors have joined forces to form a new alliance — Atmanirbhar Digital India Foundation (ADIF) — to break the dominance of foreign internet giants like Google and Facebook. This body hopes to also advise the government and sector regulators on legal and policy frameworks needed to further grow the digital economy.
ADIF’s formation comes following the furore over Google’s billing policy in India, which demanded a 30% share of in-app purchase amounts. While Google delayed the implementation of the policy in India, it led to local internet firms joining forces against the BigTech firms. The billing issue reached the government and competition regulator CCI opened a probe against the billing policy and its alleged partial treatment of its payments unit Google Pay. The probe is under way.
ADIF has been set up as a Trust that will work for Indian companies for a level playing field and its members currently include venture firm India Quotient founding partner Anand Lunia, Murugavel Janakiraman of Matrimony, Ritesh Mallik, founder of Innov8 Coworking, Sairee Chahal of Sheroes, among others. Founders of large desi internet firms are expected to join the group, a member of the new alliance said. TOI had reported about this development in October last year.
“The idea is to get the process started. We will focus on Indian startups that are run by Indian founders. For example, a fully foriegn domiciled firm with no real Indian involved in decision making won’t be part of this. We are finalising these definitions. Member onboarding will start now and there will be elections to appoint formal positions in the Trust,” one of the members said.
Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma is not yet part of the alliance, at least formally. During the Google billing controversy, Sharma was one of the fiercest critics. Just before that, Google’s app store had taken down Paytm and its gaming app temporarily citing policy violations. This had kicked off a storm between the two companies.
ADIF plans to open chapters in the top 25 cities over the coming few months and later expand membership further in smaller towns.