Ola Stops Using Microsoft Azure After Microsoft-Owned LinkedIn Deletes CEO’s Post

Last week, Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal had railed against the “pronoun illness” that appeared to have befallen western AIs, and now he’s put his mouth where his money is.

Ola has said it’ll be moving its servers away from Microsoft’s Azure after Microsoft-owned LinkedIn had deleted his post which had criticized the woke pronoun usage that LinkedIn’s AI was promulgating. Ola said it would moving its servers from Microsoft’s Azure to its own Krutrim cloud. Aggarwal also said he would help developers build a neutral social network, along the lines of UPI for payments.

Last week, Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal had shared a screenshot in which LinkedIn’s AI had referred to him as “they/them” instead of the more conventional ‘him’. Aggarwal said that this was a sign of the “pronoun illness” that afflicted western AI models, and said it reflected a political ideology that India that was being forcefully imposed on India. He had also posted the same message on LinkedIn, but the message had been deleted by the platform claiming it went against its Community Standards. Aggarwal had posted about the deletion of the post as well on LinkedIn, but LinkedIn went ahead and deleted that post as well.

Aggarwal has now said that this was how western companies were imposing their values on Indian users without having a mandate to do so. He has cited two steps that he intends to take to break this dominance — he’ll help build the rails for a neutral social network, like UPI and ONDC, that’ll only follow Indian laws and not arbitrary western morality, and he’ll move Ola’s servers away from Microsoft. The movement of servers, in particular, will have an immediate impact, and will signal to Microsoft that Indian firms won’t sit idly by at the company imposes its worldview on its citizens.

This isn’t the first time that a tech entrepreneur has acted against the Woke agenda of big-tech. In the US, Elon Musk had repeatedly criticized how Twitter’s management was becoming Woke, before buying out the site outright and removing the Woke influences from its Community Guidelines. In India, Bhavish Aggarwal seems to be on a similar path. It remains to be seen how successful Aggarwal is, but Indian founders appear to now be fully awake to the Woke threat — and are actively taking steps to fight it.

Here is Bhavish Aggarwal’s post in its entirety:

On @Linkedin, Microsoft and their wokeness.

As an Indian institution, Ola is for genuine actions on diversity. We run one of the largest women only automotive plants. Not 1 out of 10 lines, or a small section, but the whole plant! Almost 5000 women now and will grow to tens of thousands in the coming years. And regarding gender inclusivity, we don’t need lectures from western companies on how to be inclusive. Our culture didn’t need pronouns to be inclusive for thousands of years. On a personal note, I had visited Ayodhya last year and learnt about how transgenders had been accorded special respect in our culture from ancient times! Here’s a short video from our national broadcaster DD on this – https://youtube.com/watch?v=goDQFIAZtt8….

On the other hand, the pronouns issue I wrote about is a woke political ideology of entitlement which doesn’t belong in India. I wouldn’t have waded into this debate but clearly Linkedin has presumed Indians need to have pronouns in our life, and that we can’t criticise it. They will bully us into agreeing with them or cancel us out. And if they can do this to me, I’m sure the average user stands no chance. As a founder and CEO, this western DEI system has a major impact on my business as it grows an entitlement mindset in our professional lives and I will fight it.

This situation brings me to the need for us to build our own Indian tech platforms. I’m not against global tech companies. But as an Indian citizen, I feel concerned that my life will be governed by western Big Tech monopolies and we will be culturally subsumed as the above experience shows. This is not about Ola or any of my companies. Ola is too small to make any impact against this. I want to confront this forced ideology as a free thinking Indian and do what I can in my capacity. So here are the actions I’m taking. Putting my money where my mouth is.

⁃While we can’t do anything about Linkedin’s monopoly overnight, I’m making a commitment to work with the Indian developer community to build a DPI social media framework. DPIs like UPI, ONDC, Aadhaar etc are a uniquely Indian idea and is even more needed in the world of social media. The only “community guidelines” should be the Indian law. No corporate person should be able to decide what will be banned. 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”!

⁃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. It is a challenge as all developers know, but my team is so charged up about doing this. ⁃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! Mail us on [email protected]. Offer is perpetually open!