Mumbai: Online services firm Info Edge (India) Ltd, which owns jobs portal Naukri.com and matrimonial website Jeevansathi.com, plans to join the ranks of venture capitalists, says a top company official.
The Noida-based company, which made its first investment in Delhi-based education portal StudyPlaces Inc. earlier this year, says it has decided to acquire equity stakes in Internet start-ups as part of its growth strategy.
New moves: Hitesh Oberoi.
“We are currently looking at a couple of companies in the Internet and mobile space,” says Hitesh Oberoi, director and chief operating officer of Info Edge.
The company plans to target early-stage companies that can benefit from its distribution channels such as offline operations, business relationships, and site traffic.
It is looking at potential investments between $1 million and $4 million per deal.
In return, Info Edge can bolster its own offerings with services the start-ups bring to the table, and establish a presence in new niche areas.
For example, the company, which plans to launch its own education information search portal later this month, might explore synergies between StudyPlaces and its own offerings.
Since it started as a job search engine with Naukri, the company has expanded into online classifieds with Jeevansathi.com for matrimonials, 99acres.com for real estate, Brijj.com for career networking, and offline recruitment through its Quadrangle brand.
Corporate venture capital, or VC, investments by non-financial companies has been active in the country in the past 12-18 months.
Most of this has been deployed by large multinational companies such as Intel Corp., Cisco Systems Inc. and Google Inc., which invest in start-up companies through seed funds. Info Edge is among a handful of Indian companies to invest in early stage start-ups. Others include media houses such as Network 18 Fincap Pvt. Ltd (through its investment arm Capital 18), Bennett, Coleman and Co. Ltd and HT Media Ltd, which publishes Mint.
Info Edge, which raised Rs174 crore in a public listing in November 2006, does not have a dedicated corpus but will invest out of its balance sheet.
In addition to funding start-ups, the company is also on the look out for “large-ticket” acquisitions.
Info Edge had earlier planned a secondary public offering to raise capital for such acquisitions, but shelved plans during the market downturn.
“Now, we will raise money only when we have an acquisition target,” said Oberoi.