Facebook, with more than 400 million users these days, is the largest and most popular social networking site in the world. The U.S.-born company, founded in 2004 mainly for university students, announced Monday plans to set up shop in Hyderabad in southern India.
The new Hyderabad office is expected to help manage the rapid growth of users throughout Asia and will occupy online sales and operations teams. The move is part of a strategy to create Facebook support centers around the globe, covering all time zones, and provide assistance in several languages.
According to Don Faul, Facebook director of global online operations, 70 percent of users are now outside the U.S. and use the site in over 70 languages. "In India alone, we've seen rapid growth and now have more than 8 million people there actively connecting on Facebook," wrote Faul in a recent blog. By having support centers in a variety of time zones, Facebook can provide better around-the-clock, multilingual support, he added.
Facebook has emerged as one of the Internet's most popular destinations and recently surpassed the Web's powerhouse competitor, Google.
The Hyderabad office will supplement the company's support teams at its headquarters in Palo Alto, Calif., and in Dublin, Ireland. Last week the company also announced it plans to open a new office in Austin, Texas.
Hyderabad is one of India's technology hubs and a base for major U.S. companies including Google, Microsoft and IBM, among others.
However union officials and workers rights advocates argue many major U.S. corporations open up shops in developing countries like India mainly to tap a skilled workforce at relatively cheap wages. Facebook and other U.S. major companies should aim to pay their overseas workforce at livable wages with decent health benefits and worker protections, including the right to organize and join unions, they say.