Bhavish Aggarwal: Ola’s Bhavish Aggarwal snaps ties with Microsoft Azure in stand against Western tech

The Ola group of companies, which spans ride-hailing and EV manufacturing, will snap ties with Microsoft’s Azure cloud and begin using the cloud service of its sister firm Krutrim AI, founder Bhavish Aggarwal said on Saturday. The aggressive stance comes as a riposte to Microsoft subsidiary LinkedIn blocking a post by the Ola founder on May 6.

In a post on the professional networking site, Aggarwal had termed the usage of the pronoun ‘they’ an “illness”, prompting LinkedIn to take it down on the grounds that it fell afoul of its community policies.

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In turn, Aggarwal said that the Ola group of companies would move their businesses inhouse.

“Since LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft and Ola is a big customer of Azure, we’ve decided to move our entire workload out of Azure to our own @Krutrim cloud within the next week…” Aggarwal said in a post on microblogging site X.

“Any other developer who wants to move out of Azure, we will offer a full year of free cloud usage. As long as you don’t go back to Azure after that,” he wrote.

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Agarwal’s combative announcement comes just days after Krutrim AI, the artificial intelligence unicorn founded by him, opened up its cloud infrastructure and cloud services for business. Krutrim Cloud will be offering GPU-as-a-service on its AI computing infrastructure, allowing enterprises and developers to train and fine-tune their models, according to the company.

Public infrastructure

Aggarwal also took aim at prevailing business models in his post on Saturday.

“Data should be owned by the creators instead of being owned by the corporates who make money using our data and then lecture us on “community guidelines,” he wrote.

Ola will help build a digital public infrastructure (DPI) social media framework similar to Unified Payment Interface (UPI) to counter what Aggarwal termed as “Linkedin’s “monopoly”.

“The only “community guidelines” should be the Indian law. No corporate person should be able to decide what will be banned,” said the 38-year old technology founder.

In February, Union IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw had told the Rajya Sabha that the government would introduce legislation and take other steps to ensure social media platforms are more accountable for any slanderous content posted on their platforms.

In a series of posts following LinkedIn’s actions against his post, Aggarwal intensified his protests.

“Dear @LinkedIn this post of mine was about YOUR AI imposing a political ideology on Indian users that’s unsafe, sinister,” he said.

Aggarwal’s vocal protests drew support from peers such as Unacademy founder Gaurav Munjal, as well as several other users of LinkedIn.

Rising demand for cloud services

In 2017, Ola Cabs had moved to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, adding that Azure would also power and market the former’s connected car platform Ola Play. Azure competes with the likes of Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud in India. In FY23, Microsoft’s India entity reported a 39% rise in operating revenue to Rs 19,229 crore, partly helped by rising demand for Azure and for its AI services to enterprise clients.

Besides providing cloud services, Aggarwal’s Krutrim AI has also launched standalone mobile apps for the Krutrim AI assistant used by end consumers. These are similar to the apps offered by OpenAI for ChatGPT and Microsoft for CoPilot. OpenAI is also backed by Microsoft.

Meanwhile, both Ola Cabs and Ola Electric are bound for the public markets. While Ola Electric is awaiting approval from the markets regulator after submitting its draft listing papers late last year, Ola Cabs is undertaking restructuring and retreating from international markets as it attempts to improve profitability before a market listing.


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