Google has started exploratory talks with venture capital investors and start-ups in order to directly invest or acquire companies in India that will cater to the next billion of internet users. Google is focusing on two major areas that include products for the billions of online users and acqui-hires in high tech areas.

It is not clear whether a transaction is imminent but Google is unlikely to invest in the consumer market that is saturated with online retail. Google, the online search giant, dominates the market for domestic digital advertisements but its next phase of growth is dependent on how fast India will be able to improve network infrastructure and expand the number of internet users.

Google’s focus is on the next billion online users that will come from India’s small cities and towns. In order to achieve its goal, Google has to invest strategically or acquire technology-enabled companies in the industries of financial services, healthcare, education and mobile utility. However, since talks are still in the early stages, companies have refused to be identified.

In terms of potential acqui-hires, Google has to focus on companies with talent on cloud computing and online security. According to data from CB Insights, Google has not yet acquired any start-up in India but globally, it has invested on more than 70 companies since early 2014.

India accounts for that largest number of Android users which is Google’s operating system. India was also the testing ground for new online products like YouTube Offline. Based on data, Google India has posted a 44% increase in turnover to Rs 5,904 crore for the year up to March 2016 due to the popularity of internet-connected mobile devices and the boost in e-commerce. However, India only has an estimated 462 million online users compared to China with its 731 million internet users.

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