I informed all VCs & bankers I was in touch with about this important development. Most, rather all, were very surprised with this news as nobody had guessed this deal was going to happen. But each one of them were happy for us. Satisfying.
Background of Greynium
Greynium owns India’s largest Indian language portal – Oneindia.com & a popular horizontal classified portal Click.in. Started in Jan 2006 we had raised angel money to grow the business. We had our share of ups & downs.
It has been 4 years since we started Greynium. I was trying to raise money from professional VCs, most of them liked what we did but none of them were sure about the future of Indian languages. Basically for them whatever we were doing (language space) was not a proven model in the US internet space.
The traffic numbers were on our side but nobody was willing to move (but later things changed, explained later in the post). They just would not believe people are consuming Indian languages on the web.
Exit Options for Oneindia
December 2009 was a very eventful month in my life. I was given some unexpected bad news (corporate related) but the same day comscore‘s press release gave a thumbs up to Oneindia.in’s growth. I learnt about this press release from a tweet. This press release made a huge difference, there were good number of calls to us about Oneindia.com.
We had to raise money to implement many of our plans that were waiting for quite sometime. We had to be part of a bigger umbrella.
In February 2010 I got into a difficult situation: wasn’t able to handle the various options we had for investment/exit. We decided to go with Netcore.
Greynium had worked on few of Netcore’s projects. The teams jelled well, never had any working issues. The management teams of both companies always got along well.
We are clearly seeing the increase in mobile internet in India (yes, it is early days) but the mobile penetration is difficult & impossible to ignore. Netcore has done a phenomenal job when it comes to the mobile space in India. They had not spent anything on marketing (just like Oneindia, not a single penny spent on marketing so far). Both companies have grown because the product spoke for itself.
We agreed that each company had something which complement each other well – Oneindia had the content, Netcore had the mobile reach. The combination can & will build a formidable mobile+web entity.
Of the various options we had, Netcore was very bullish about the space we were in. They genuinely believed in what we were doing. And they were willing to walk the talk (quick term sheet, practical due diligence etc).
I strongly believed Netcore was a natural destination for Greynium. I had the support of our shareholders & the board, they agreed with my views and we went for it.
Who are responsible for Greynium’s growth?
For those who know us well, they know our management team is too small – just me & our COO Sriram Hebbar. We both have been juggling many many hats to keep things going. We have a great working relationship – never had a single misunderstanding simply because I am very transparent about everything with him, but yes we have disagreed about strategy which is healthy.
Our language editors have been just fantastic. I have believed in them & they have believed in me. The technical team was always under pressure and I can confidently say things will get only worse for them 😉
The support team – HR dept (just one), accounts dept (just one), office admin (again just one) managed the team of 115, they rarely needed to speak with me about anything.
I would like to thank the advertisers, ad agencies, ad networks for the continued business they have given us.
Last but not the least, our users, rather ‘unique users’ have shown tremendous faith in our properties. We will continuously work towards improving things for them.
Plan For The Future
Many have asked me the standard question “So when are you leaving & what are you going to do next?”. Well, I am not going anywhere. I am here as I have lots & lots of pending work.