New Delhi: Editor-turned-entrepreneur Shekhar Gupta’s media venture Printline Media Pvt. Ltd has raised an undisclosed sum from investors including Ratan Tata, Uday Kotak and Nandan Nilekani, all of whom are putting money in the company in their personal capacity. The company will use the money to launch its news site The Print, a multimedia digital news platform, in the next three months.
The anchor investors—the list also has Biocon Ltd founder Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Bangalore-based tech-entrepreneur Rajiv C. Mody and Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma—will hold close to 20% equity in Printline Media. The remaining stake will be held by Printline founder Shekhar Gupta. “We have raised money from a diverse set of individuals. The venture is moving towards its logical conclusion. We will make a formal announcement very soon," said Gupta, declining to share more details.
Printline has plans to hire a team of 50 people by July and has set up an office in Express Building on New Delhi’s Fleet Street, Bahadurshah Zafar Marg. Gupta, who was editor-in-chief of The Indian Express for 15 years, quit the Viveck Goenka-owned newspaper in June 2014. Currently, his company does an interview-based show with celebrity guests titled Off the Cuff which is telecast on English news channel NDTV 24X7.
When it is launched, The Print will enter a crowded digital news market where independent news sites such as Scroll, The News Minute, The Quint, Quartz, Newslaundry and The Wire, are vying for eyeballs with sites of established newspapers such as The Times of India, Hindustan Times and Indian Express. HT Media Ltd which owns Hindustan Times also publishes Mint.
On the entry of a new digital news brand, Samir Patil, founder and chief executive of news site Scroll, said that finding a digital audience is no more a challenge. “That is growing exponentially. The real place where digital needs a push is on connecting brands and advertisers to audiences."
Media industry experts say that digital advertising will grow rapidly. At least four reports on media in the last five months have indicated robust growth for digital advertising by 2020. The GroupM media report ‘This Year Next Year’ estimates digital media to grow at 30% year-on-year. In 2016 digital was pegged at Rs7,300 crore.
A report on digital advertising from Dentsu Aegis Network says that the medium in India, which currently stand at 12%, is expected to touch 24% of the total advertising pie by the end of 2020. The digital advertising industry, the report says, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 37% to reach Rs23,795 crore by 2020.