Times Internet has acquired 5 companies in 2014 (Cricbuzz, Moneysights, CouponDunia, DineOut, and MusicFellas.), a refreshing change from how Indian corporates have looked at startups (hell! Why buy? We can build a cheaper and uglier version).
If you look at these acquisitions, the trend is clear – Times Internet is acquiring companies in space where it needs massive boost or sees a good team (i.e. acqhire) that aligns with a product line.
CouponDunia is the costliest deal for Times Internet so far. Given that Timesdeal didn’t do so well, even after making the deals free (except for one day), CouponDunia is more of a business deal equally negotiated than an acqhire.
Moneysights is an acqhire. The site shut down 2 years back, but personal finance is still a hot business and there isn’t a clear leader there. Given that the Moneysights team was talking to Times Internet (for a possible acquisition) before shutting down two years back, this acquisition is a logical step in collaborating.
Dineout was acquired to merge it with TimesCity (so that users of TimesCity can make online restaurant reservations). That is, product/tech + team acquisition.
MusicFellas was acquired to bring the expertise of MusicFellas cofounders to Gaana. That is, skill acquisition.
In short, most deals are being done to boost an existing business and not just pure talent hires. This is not just cool, but sexy as well (other corporates need to learn from Times Internet).
What’s the NextBigWhat deal for Times Internet?
I’d like to believe Ecommerce. The freshly launched homepage of Indiatimes clearly tells this.
The link to Times’ ecommerce portal (i.e. shopping.indiatimes) is missing on the homepage (except for footer – which nobody cares about) .
When ecommerce is growing big and more customers are buying online, bailing out of ecommerce isn’t just cool. But Times Internet probably doesn’t have the DNA (?) to pull off an ecommerce business ( at a massive scale).
I am not sure how many of you noticed that around 6 months back, Shopping.Indiatimes also became price comparison engine, and an affiliate based model (even if you do not buy from Indiatimes, they will still make money if you buy from somebody else who is selling for cheap). But those are short-term arrangements/experiments.
Unlike Rediff, Times Internet is still hungry and the next big bet for them should be to grow the ecommerce portfolio (or just forget about this product line).
If not an ecommerce company, get hold of an enabler (hint : price comparison engines)?