Web18 Software Solutions Pvt. Ltd, the Internet arm of Network18 Media and Investments Ltd that runs websites in travel, technology, movie bookings and financial news, is set to launch a horizontal portal, said two people familiar with the development.
One person said the firm is likely to launch the site in May and it is also testing an email service to be bundled with the portal. Neither wanted to be identified.
A horizontal portal is a website that links to a range of content across several verticals such as news, email, weather, travel, gadget reviews and other popular content. Sites such as Aol.com, Yahoo.com, Rediff.com, Sify.com and Indiatimes.com, are examples of horizontals. All of them offer search and a free email service.
Web18, which operates 15 websites, has one of the strongest portfolios in the Indian Internet space. Moneycontrol.com, the firm’s financial information site, is ranked 24 in India by Alexa, a company that tracks global Internet traffic. Alexa rankings are a combination of reach and page views. Rediff, Indiatimes and Sify rank sixth, 17th and 20th, respectively.
Yatra.com, movie bookings site Bookmyshow.com, jobs site Jobstreet.com, cricket site Cricketnext.com and news site Ibnlive.com are some other sites that the firm owns.
Web18’s holding company, Web18 Holdings Ltd, is incorporated in Cayman Islands, an offshore financial centre located in the western Caribbean sea. Web18 Software Services, however, is housed under Television Eighteen Pvt. Ltd, a listed subsidiary of Network18.
For the quarter ended 31 March, Web18 registered a year-on-year revenue growth of 112%. However, the division made net losses of Rs14.3 crore.
Network18 CEO Haresh Chawla had then said that the losses were the results of development costs of upcoming Web properties. “We are launching a new Web 2.0 property and it’s at the beta testing stage now. But we are not in a position to divulge any more details right now,” Chawla said.
The company will also soon go for an overseas listing, a TV18 executive, who also asked not to be named, said, adding an “an announcement is likely soon”. When asked if the firm will go for a listing in London’s Alternative Investment Market, the official said: “We might go straight to Nasdaq” Stock Market.
Industry wisdom is divided on the merits of a horizontal portal. “Just look at the facts: Rediff is valued at $200 million (Rs846 crore), while a vertical like Naukri (job portal) is valued at four times that. Sify has one-tenth the value of travel portal Makemytrip. Yahoo is struggling, while Google is thriving at five times the value,” insisted the head of a rival media firm that has a large presence in the Internet space but who didn’t want to be identified.
“It is certainly a good idea on the cost side as the cost of delivery will come down and the firm will be able to exploit economies of scale,” said T.R. Madan Mohan, managing partner, Browne and Mohan, a management consultant.