Mumbai: New Delhi-based Info Edge (India) Ltd, which owns jobs portal Naukri.com, has launched two portals in the online jobs space in the last two months: professional networking site Brijj.com and career advisory site AskNaukri.com.
Info Edge, among the handful of successful Internet start-ups from the country’s first brush with Internet businesses in 1999-2001, is making a play for Web 2.0 business models with the two new launches.
Web 2.0 businesses are built on collaborative interactions between users through online communities and social networking. The launches are part of the company’s expansion strategies in the wake of its Rs170.4 crore initial public offering (IPO) in November—the first Indian Internet company to list on domestic bourses. Info Edge also owns matrimonials portal Jeevansathi.com and real estate portal 99acres.com.
Mint spoke to Sanjeev Bikhchandani, founder, chief executive officer and managing director, Info Edge, about his plans. Edited excerpts:
You have launched two new jobs-related portals in the last two months. What’s the game plan?
We are trying to incorporate a Web 2.0 play in the online jobs space. Brijj as a professional networking site has many uses for a user. He can use it for employee referrals, to connect to other professionals in his field or even to locate old college friends. It spreads more through viral marketing (in which users voluntarily recommend the product to their friends).
Brijj works on a pay-per-contact revenue model. Anyone can contact anyone else on the network by paying a flat fee. Right now, we don’t have a differentiated pricing. We don’t have a target in terms of revenue, but we will focus on building a strong network over the next two years.
AskNaukri, the other site we launched, gives career advice to users. The objective was to build more traffic for the site, we are not looking to generate revenues from it just yet.
How will you differentiate Brijj from other professional networking sites such as LinkedIn and TechTribe?
We are working on building technology to add features to provide superior user experience. In addition, Brijj has a good synergy with Naukri’s offerings, which can give it an edge. For example, one application could be for employers seeking to hire candidates. By using both Brijj and Naukri, the company can not only reach out to candidates looking for a job, but also to the passive job seekers registered on Brijj.
Do you plan to launch portals in other verticals apart from jobs?
We are evaluating various areas that might be a good fit with our working model—education, for instance. Info Edge is in the business of connecting people, where we enable handshakes that lead to transactions. We are also looking at picking up strategic stakes in early-stage companies in the online space over the next year.
How has growth been at the older properties?
So far, growth has been good for Naukri (Info Edge posted a net profit of Rs27.07 crore in 2006-07). We want to turn around Jeevansathi and 99acres in the next two years. Currently, the two portals are incurring a loss of around Rs4 crore between them. The focus this year will be to make them more profitable. Some of the capital raised during the IPO will go towards marketing the two services to consumers. With Jeevansathi, we will focus more on North India and Maharashtra, where we have a strong presence.
Since Info Edge’s IPO last year, Makemytrip.com and Shaadi.com have announced plans to go public. Is the industry maturing?
I think it is a good trend. Having a few IPOs will set a benchmark for this industry. However, companies should try to achieve a certain critical mass in terms of revenue before they list. It takes a lot of management bandwidth to go for an IPO.