For Akshay Kothari, the country manager for LinkedIn in India and the company’s vice president for International Products, 2017 was a year when the professional networking firm’s ‘Made in India, by India, for India’ efforts truly paid off.
The LinkedIn Lite Android app was launched in July 2017 and after a successful launch India, Lite was exported to 60+ emerging markets worldwide. LinkedIn Lite is one of the first locally built products by LinkedIn’s technology and product team based in Bengaluru. This lighter version of the flagship app has been optimised to a size of 700 kb to solve for memory constraints and poor connectivity. The goal was to allow every member to access LinkedIn within 5 seconds, even on 2G networks. The site now loads 5 times faster, engagement has gone up three-fold, and job applications on the mobile website have quadrupled since the launch of LinkedIn Lite in India. In December 2017, LinkedIn Lite was selected as a Google Play “Best of 2017” winner in the ‘Social’ category.
“The success of Lite was personal, as I am very passionate about democratising economic opportunity for the student community, irrespective of the school they went to or which city they live in. More than half of our new members (55%) now sign up on mobile, and we have seen sign ups from Tier-II and Tier-II cities increase since this initiative. It has been a huge enabler for students across the country, who own a low-cost smartphone and reside in areas with poor connectivity,” says Kothari.
In August, LinkedIn launched native video in the news feed globally, and that has changed how professionals in India are sharing ideas, resumes, learning from others, and jump-starting new conversations. A month later, it launched its specially curated ‘Daily Rundown’ feature that brings members a curated collection of top stories and headlines of the day that are being talked about in their networks.
With 80% of online traffic expected to come from video in 2018, in November 2017, LinkedIn launched its fully fitted out video studio in our Bengaluru office, a space that allows it to create editorially rich and locally relevant video content for its members. With this original video content, it hopes to spark meaningful discussions with industry leaders and top voices on our platform, offer advice to professionals, and create engaging debates for students and freshers that enable them to make better career choices.
“Giving back gives me more joy than ever before, and finding ways to give back will be a personal focus for me for the next decade. How can I help the youth in India get better opportunities, how can they start their own companies, how can they go on to do bigger things...are the kind of questions that I am passionate about today. I still continue to be extremely driven about building products for change and for the larger good in society,” says Kothari.
LinkedIn says creating economic opportunity for every member of the workforce continues to be the priority. It will focus on increasing access to its platform in tier-II and tier-III cities so that students and professionals everywhere, irrespective of their choice of smartphone, where they live, or their education, can access better opportunities and grow. For example, blue-collar workers in India are a fragmented audience, and it is exploring new ways to understand how it can upskill them as well as empower them with relevant job opportunities using LinkedIn.
Making LinkedIn relevant to the student community as well as to freshers or “career starters” is also a key focus area for LinkedIn in 2018, and the company has already kick-started programs such as the Campus Editor Program across top universities in India in 2017.
On the personal front, Kothari became a father for the first time, in what will probably be his best role yet.
Find the 40 under 40, 2018 list here.
The annual Fortune India 40 under 40 event takes place in Bengaluru on April 29.