Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has renamed the social media giant Meta. Photo: AFP

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has lauded the entrepreneurial spirit in India and said the country is going to play a major role in building his company’s proposed Metaverse ecosystem.

Metaverse refers to a combination of multiple technologies, including virtual reality, augmented reality and video where users “live” within a digital universe. Elaborating on this at Meta’s Fuel for India 2021 event, Zuckerberg said it would be “an internet where you feel like you’re there and you’re present with people and in other places.”

Zuckerberg noted that the Metaverse was not going to be built by only one company, or even a small number of companies – but through empowering millions of creators around the world.

“We’re thinking about what the next generation is going to look like in terms of where these creators and developers are going to come from, who are going to build the foundation of the Metaverse.”

As for India, he said a combination of two factors makes the country special – “the entrepreneurial spirit combined with the scale of what can happen … That is what is fuelling a lot of the internet economy in India already, but it also makes me so optimistic about the future here,” he said.

Zuckerberg added that India’s talent pool – the engineers, developers and creators, and the vibrant startup ecosystem – are playing a huge role in shaping the future.

The founder of Facebook said India was on track to have the largest app developer base in the world by 2024. He also felt the online gaming sector in the country has seen a lot of growth over the past few years and Meta’s investment in gaming will keep increasing as the company unlocks the full potential of the Metaverse.

The Fuel for India 2021 event featured different segments showcasing how people, businesses and communities are coming together on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp to drive change and explore possibilities for the future.

The social media giant has already invested in social commerce startup Meesho and the online education firm Unacademy, both of which are now unicorns.

Last year Meta invested US$5.7 billion to acquire a 9.99% stake in Jio Platforms, the telecom and digital unit of Reliance Industries, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Jaadhu Holdings LLC.

Later Reliance Industries e-commerce unit JioMart entered into a deal with WhatsApp, to use the popular messaging app to boost its online business. WhatsApp has more than 400 million users in the country and Reliance is looking to scale up its newly-formed e-commerce unit to take on established players such as Amazon, Flipkart, BigBasket and others.