Mark Zuckerberg said he didn't yet have the solution to the most pressing question IIT Delhi had for him: "How can we stop getting invitations on Candy Crush?" but along with portending that without India Facebook plans to improve accessibility and affordable access to the internet would be impaired.
Facebook is heavily championing FreeBasics, a rebranded version of the controversial Internet.org through which people would be able to access a limited suite of websites for free. He said that a lot of criticism of the company's plan was "too cynical" and that though the internet wouldn't be free, his company's initiatives were necessary to get several billion more--with no internet access--on board.
Zuckerberg clarified that net neutrality, that is intrinsically linked to FreeBasics, was "an important principle. It's important to have regulations which prevent companies from hurting people."
Addressing around 900 students who were only 1-in-10 of those who wanted to hear Zuckerbert live at the IIT Delhi auditorium, Zuckerberg made a brief address and then took on a range of questions from Facebook's ambitions, the difficulties of being in a start-up, government regulation, privacy, the Taj Mahal and the feasibility of being "teleported."
Facebook's mission, Zuckerberg said at the company's first ever India townhall--a popular practice where the CEO takes questions directly from employees-- that Facebook's mission was giving people the power to share and making the world more connected. Without India this wouldn't be possible."
Facebook is an important recruiter at IIT Delhi, whose engineers are frequently baited by astronomical salaries dangled by the Silicon Valley company. Several of the students at the Townhall lobbed sharp queries about "mistakes" Zuckerberg made at Facebook and things he would do differently in retrospect. There were also questions about whether Facebook could help with disaster relief and tracking missing children, to both of which, Zuckerberg said there were programs in place.
Prime Minister Modi made a high profile visit to Facebook's headquarters in Silicon Valley last month where he addressed a similar townhall and took on questions about his childhood poverty and ambition to harness technology for India's future.
Several IITians nurture ambitions to cash in on India's burgeoning e-commerce boom. Prominent Indian e-commerce companies such Flipkart and Snapdeal were founded by IIT-ians and Zuckerberg's word of advice was to not be unduly worried about making mistakes but be focussed on the reasons why enterpreneurs started the company. "There are people who want to start a company before they know what they are doing. Focus on what you want to do for the world and not the decision to start a company."
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