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Indian Digital Story
Indian Digital Story
By: Rammohan Sundaram

It was way back in 1999-2000 when Pradeep Kar launched a frenzy of products through his holding company Microland that actually took India by storm with so many consumer facing and product driven companies. Each of these were heavily invested and at the pace it grew in terms of content to page views was not funny and that too in a dial up era.

Then came the bubble crashing and we all realized how India with it’s poor infrastructure was not going to grow for another five years, we also realized that advertising driven models were way too early and there is no way on earth that the money will ever be realized in the near short term for any VCs.

But if you go back in time, what was sown as idea by a bunch of Pradeep Kar companies today are seeing exits. The same ideas whether the ad-network story or the agency model or classic tech driven web solutions company in this case Planetasia as reference have all been seeing interests from foreign agencies and strategic investors.

I ripped the model in total however it was not by design but by chance and when it did happen, I was seeing such massive co-incidence in the outcome of NetworkPlay, I was surprised myself. Maybe the love for the company that brought me into Internet might have been one reason but if one has to come to think about it then the reality is that, the God of Indian Consumer Internet is Pradeep Kar. Pradeep has been instrumental in creating some serious brands, which then built great products (though it was all way too early in its time) and attracted the best of talent. If you go to a successful internet company you will atleast find one or two with backgrounds going back to the glorious Pradeep Kar days. That was the power of sowing the seed in the early 2000s.

Sometime last year I was moderating a panel discussion with Vikas Tandon of Indigo Consulting, Debadutta Upadhyaya, Karan Gupta and Madan Sanglikar and had told the audience that in the year 2012 you will find major buy outs in the agency side of the business. The story is coming true, We had Vikas’s own Indigo Consulting being bought out by Leo Burnett, we had JWT’s Singapore division buying Hungama Digital, we saw Resultrix being bought over by Publicis and most recently Vivek’s Communicate2 got acquired by Aegis Group.

There are rumors of Interactive Avenues being bought over, though a speculation currently it sure needs an exit for it’s investors and the time is right for multi-national agencies to come in and take the slice off the growing India Digital Inc.

What is then left out in the big league is just Webchutney, which I am sure will also see it being part of a large global network by the end of the year.

What started with WPP acquiring Quasar will end with Webchutney’s buy out, however what we do not still get is that not all acquisitions end up being hunky dory because agencies are bought for it’s people, relationships and then clients. Any agency that is being bought out because of the number of clients and it’s revenue will surely see the debacle, we all know what I am trying to say and therefore it will be interesting to see what pans out over the next 3 years simply because most earn-out models have a lock in period for the founding team, which in itself is a long time keeping in mind the spirit of the entrepreneur and therefore his/her commitment over the next 3 years having seen a decade building the company. Sometimes I feel this whole buyout model is not right, there can be so many more smarter ways in buying companies out than these “earn out type ke phuddhu buy-outs”. I practice what I preach in most times and any buy-out NetworkPlay does will never be these “Phuddhu Models”. Having been the first ad-network to actually sell in India and that too, to the largest European media group’s publishing division, I can tell what is right and what is not.

Anyway the crux of the story is that picture abhi baaki hain mere dost and the real action actually begins now. So let’s go….