Indian startups look to challenge Google

Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Chennai: Close on the heels of Paytm episode and Epic Games, makers of the popular videogame Fortnite, sueing Google along with Apple over the tax they charge on app revenues, Indian startups are planning their own alliance in hopes of mounting a legal challenge against what they feel are unfair practices by the internet giant.

A Reuters report said nearly 50 Indian entrepreneurs have held video conferences planning a possible showdown with Google, with Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma among them.

“If we together don’t do anything, then history will not be kind to us. We have to control our digital destiny,” Sharma was quoted as saying.

In the call, he said Google was the big daddy controlling the oxygen supply of app distribution on Android phones. He urged the executives to join hands to ‘stop this tsunami’.

Paytm, which is backed by Softbank, is one of India’s 21 unicorn companies and was an early mover in the digital payments space in the country. The app has since evolved into more of a ‘super-app’ offering services ranging from payments to booking flight tickets and e-commerce.

With the advent of the Dream 11 sponsored IPL, Paytm also sought to introduce an IPL-themed ‘cashback’ feature allowing users to collect stickers of popular players with each transaction and potentially earn money from the collection.

However, the new feature resulted in the app being temporarily removed from the Google Play Store as Alphabet deemed the feature a violation of its terms of service against real-money gambling. Paytm was returned to the app store after it rolled back the cashback option after making a few tweaks to the game.

Paytm accused Google of arm-twisting tactics. On Gandhi Jayanti, Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma tweeted, ‘Be the app that, you want to see in the world. Condition: If only Google let’s you be. #GandhiJayanti’.


NT Bureau