Hyderabad: Hyderabad-based Pressmart Media Ltd, a company that generates and maintains e-papers for global and Indian newspapers and magazines, says it has turned down an acquisition bid by Internet search engine firm Google Inc.
Last week, Pressmart raised $6 million (Rs27.8 crore today) in private equity funding from US-based venture capital companies Draper Fisher Jurvetson and NEA-Indo US Ventures. The company plans to use the funds to open marketing offices in the US, the UK, Singapore and Dubai to expand its international client base.
Pressmart chief executive Sanjiv Gupta said Google executives approached the company in early March, expressing an interest in Pressmart and its licensed technology.
Growth path: Pressmart CEO Sanjiv Gupta says the company is open to collaborations for mutual benefit, but is not looking to cash out yet.
The Hyderabad company owns patented technology for digitizing newspapers and making them searchable on the Internet while preserving the same-as-in-print feel.
According to Gupta, Google offered to send a team from the US for detailed discussions. However, he said, the company “did not take the conversation much further” as its management was not interested in a possible acquisition by Google.
“Pressmart is open to collaborations, including (with) Google, for increasing mutual benefit, but at this stage of the company’s growth, we are not looking to cash out,” Gupta said. “We are creating value, and it is hard to put a number on the value that we are in the process of creating.”
Google’s India head Shailesh Rao could not be reached for comment. “We do not comment on rumour, or speculation,” Google India spokesperson Roli Agarwal wrote in an email response.
In September, Google product manager Punit Soni announced on the company’s official blog the launch of “an initiative to make more old newspapers accessible and searchable online by partnering with newspaper publishers to digitize millions of pages of news archives”.
Draper Fisher Jurvetson venture partner Sateesh Andra refused to disclose the valuation of Pressmart arrived at by the venture capital firm prior to its investment.
Google works with The New York Times and The Washington Post, apart from other clients, for digitizing archives and making them searchable via Google News.
In India, Pressmart has digitized and created online searchable archives for newspapers, including the Deccan Chronicle, The Asian Age, the Hindustan Times, Mint and The Times of India, besides other regional and national newspapers. The Hindustan Times and Mint are both published by HT Media Ltd.
In the US, the company is working with newspapers such as The Philadelphia Inquirer and the Orlando Sentinel, among others. Internationally, Pressmart has 347 customers spread across 37 countries and 22 languages.
“In the next 24-36 months’ time, we are targeting an active client base of 5,000 and revenue of Rs100 crore,” Gupta said. “At that stage if we need liquidity, we will look at going public.”
The company has a headcount of 350, which it expects to raise to 1,000 in the same time frame.