In South India, Amazon Builds Its Largest Office Yet


The austere building is hardly distinguishable in the landscape of glass and concrete buildings making up Asia’s Silicon Valley, as Hyderabad, India, is known. It is one of Amazon’s latest developments, the online retailer’s largest office building in the world.

With plans to cement its place as the center of gravity around which online retail revolves, Amazon has turned to India, the world’s fastest-growing market for internet users. And it has picked Hyderabad, a city of nearly 10 million in India’s south, as its base of operations there.

But the project faces challenges, including pushback from local businesses and politicians.

Hyderabad has emerged in a few short years as a technology and financial center and a beacon for young talent. The city, which saw the biggest surge in tech office space last year, is already a base in India for other multinational tech companies such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Apple, which spent $25 million for the development of its offices there.

“Hyderabad is a known software tech talent center, and the government has been an enabler for us to have a campus this size,” said Minari Shah, an Amazon spokeswoman. “This is an important confirmation of how India continues to be important to Amazon.”

As India’s reliance on international tech companies grows, the recent antitrust investigation is only the latest in a chain of events that has led the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to rein in foreign investment.

Mr. Meena says there is a panic among local sellers, who feel they are being pushed out of the marketplace as others are given preference, and are now seeing the government raise questions about large tech companies’ business practices only after they have developed their own e-commerce platforms.

To circumvent the latest wave of unrest, Mr. Bezos announced a $1 billion investment during his visit in January to help small and midsize businesses bolster their online growth. It follows Amazon’s promise of $5 billion in investments in the country in 2016, and another $500 million pledged in food e-commerce the next year.

Since the pandemic, however, with e-commerce as the only channel for selling products for months, more small businesses are realizing the potential in working with companies such as Amazon and Flipkart, Mr. Meena added.

Within the United States, the European Union and now India, Amazon’s ascendancy as a retail giant has been met with antitrust investigations and increased scrutiny over data and tax regulations. But the backlash is hardly a problem for Amazon, Mr. Meena said.

“It’s not only in India; they will face challenges from regulators all over the world,” he said, adding that Amazon was likely to serve as a blueprint for other international retailers.

“Ultimately, they think they have enough value and time to capture the Indian market,” he said. “That’s what they are hoping for.”


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