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HT Media Acquires

November 21, 2007 | In: Uncategorized

Firefly e-Ventures Ltd., the wholly-owned Internet subsidiary of HT Media Ltd., has acquired social networking site,, as per the news reported in Hindustan Times. Though the financial terms are not disclosed, HT Media said that the deal was for less than US $ 10 Million (Rs. 39.3 Crores), which makes an interesting reading, since less than US $ 10 Million could be anything from INR 1.0 Lakh to INR 38.0 Crores (so whether HT Media is trying to peg a value to or just building hype in case of further sell-off or acquisition, is anybody’s guess).

This news is bound to create excitement in Indian Internet market as it provides an important yard-stick to the ever-optimistic entrepreneurs, who are now bound to measure their own ventures in terms of Desimartini’s valuatuion., launched by Pahwa Knowledge Based Services late last year, is funded by the Pahwa Group of Companies. It was claimed that Desimartini has a membership-base of around 250,000 with traffic of around 2.5 million page views a month.

The traffic numbers as claimed by Desimartini, if true, indicate a good traction for website, but somehow the actual traffic does not seem to be that high, as per external indicators.

Desimartini, which regularly advertises on TV, Internet and other medium, has an Alexa ranking of 77,467 while its Compete ranking is 889,553 with around 1000 US visitors per month. Incidentally, Alexa rankings overall are not considered trustworthy as they can be engineered to generate high ranking. Hence, generally speaking, a high Alexa rank doesn’t mean much, but a low Alexa rank certainly means that there is no big traffic on this site.

The sites which are in same Alexa league get traffic of around 600k to 800k page views a month with around 200k unique visitors a month and, hence, the claim of Desimartini having 2.5 million page views is highly suspect.

Hence, to think that a Fund Manager will pay around US $ 10 Million for a site with marginal traffic, no great brand loyalty (the site is just a year old), no great business model (just another social networking site), makes the whole thing a little suspicious, as it strongly suggests that either there is something more on the table beyond, or HT Media for some reason is really desperate to get into action without wasting a day.

Further details of this deal will be available in some time, as HT Media, being a listed company, would be required to inform the Stock Exchange regarding this transaction.

The Hindustan Times Group had dabbled with Internet earlier as well in 2000 dotcom boom (almost near to the time when the great Internet bubble burst), where it hired a high-profile team from banking and consulting industry, and had a big-bang launch for headed by Mr. Piyush Gupta. Go4i was launched in association with Chase Capital Partners and the HDFC Group. The Hindustan Times and Chase Capital Partners each held 38 percent in the venture, while the HDFC Group had 8 percent. The total investment in the venture in the initial phase was reported to be US $ 15 Millions.

Also, at that point of time, had plans to launch some other portals – related to career (, cricket (, movie ticketing (, and so on and so forth.

And for all those who care for historical data-keeping, this was the quotable quote as given in The Hindu in year 2000.

‘“We (go4i) are hopeful of a turnover of Rs. 30 Crores in the second year of operations,” Mr. Gupta said, adding that would break even in the next two years, and become profitable in the year thereafter.

“We (go4i) are planning a public issue of the portal in the next couple of years. Whether to go for an overseas float or a domestic one would depend on the prevailing market conditions at that time,” he said.’

The above statements by Piyush Gupta were made in 2000 in a truly style of forward looking statements (this is another matter that they really turned out to be forward looking qs whole go4i venture was shut down after some time).

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