Mumbai: People Interactive (I) Pvt. Ltd, the consumer Internet subsidiary of Mumbai-based People Group, is looking at a public listing in 2009 to finance acquisitions in the online classifieds and communities spaces.
The initial public offering (IPO) plans come in the wake of Delhi-based Info Edge (India) Ltd’s Rs170 crore public debut in November last year. The IPO of Info Edge, which runs jobs portal Naukri.com, is considered the most successful share sale by an Indian Internet company in recent times.
People Interactive, which owns matrimonial portal Shaadi.com, may list either on Nasdaq or on the domestic bourses, said Anupam Mittal, founder, chairman and managing director, People Group. The group, which operates chiefly in the consumer Internet and mobile value-added services (VAS) sectors, is made up of three companies—People Interactive, mobile VAS arm People Infocom Pvt. Ltd (which hawks its services under the brand name Mauj) and media production company People Entertainment. The consumer Internet arm, apart from Shaadi.com, also owns real estate portal Makaan.com (still in beta), online dating service Fropper.com and astrology portal AstroLife.
Mittal, while readying his Internet company for a public debut, is also pushing through a game plan to synergize some of its offerings with the mobile VAS arm. So far, the group has kept the operations of the two companies mostly separate; it now wants to leverage the two to tap the emerging opportunity for converged Internet and mobile services. “By offering online services on the mobile platform, we will be able to access thrice the number of consumers that we are doing now,” said the 34-year-old Mittal. Over the next few months, the group will roll out products currently offered online, on the mobile – via voice, WAP (wireless access protocol that enables mobile phones to access the Internet) and SMS (short messaging service).
Last week, Makaan launched mobile services for brokers, through a GPRS (general packet radio switching that facilitates transmission of more data and heavier applications) and SMS-enabled mobile handset application. People Interactive is also testing a voice service for Shaadi.com with a telecom operator, which will go live in six weeks.
While there are other pure-play Internet companies moving into the converged space, People Interactive believes the presence of an in-house mobile VAS company gives it an edge. “We are aggressively building a mobile marketing layer between Web and telephony, which gives us an advantage,” said Manoj Dawane, CEO, Mauj.
The Internet company will work on a revenue share basis with the operator, per transaction, and Mauj will charge a fee for managing the technology platform.
Mittal, however, has no plans to alter the current structure of the group by merging the two companies. While direct-to-consumer services will drive up revenues for People Interactive, Mauj will provide content and platform management for telecom operators. The mobile VAS company, whose operations have remained domestic until now, plans to enter West Asia and Africa.
Mauj recently tied up with a telecom operator in West Asia to provide managed platform services. It will have to compete not just with domestic players in those markets, but also with Indian players such as IMI Mobile Ltd and OnMobile Asia Pacific Pvt. Ltd, which have substantial operations in international markets already.
People Group has raised $18 million (Rs74.16 crore) in venture funding from Sequoia Capital India; People Interactive received $8 million and Mauj received $10 million. About two-thirds of the group’s combined revenues come from the net business, while one third comes from its mobile VAS business. Mittal expects the two businesses to bring in revenues of $60-70 million in three years, while the entertainment arm is expected to bring in $8-10 million. Details on current revenues were not available.