Buffalo Networks, promoters of tehelka.com, is getting ready for some real action. Come February / March 2001, the company plans to make a foray into the publishing business with the launch of its first magazine. While the name of the new magazine has been registered already, the design remains to be finalised. Positioned as a lifestyle magazine, this would be the first step in the company's efforts to become a full-fledged multi-media company.
While efforts to get in touch with Tejpal proved futile, sources in the industry indicated that Buffalo Networks is scouting for fresh investments to fund its expansion plans. The company is in talks with four sets of investors, including KVP (Ketan Parekh-Vinay Maloo-Kerry Packer combine), Star Network and Antfactory. agencyfaqs! has learnt that talks with Antfactory is at an advanced stage and if the deal is struck, it would translate into a funds infusion of close to Rs 40 crore.
With this Rs 40 crore, the new investor will pick up a 20 per cent stake in the portal, which is currently valued at Rs 200 crore. Which means, the share of the promoters in the company will come down from the current 90 per cent to 70 per cent. The deal "would be finalised in the next 15 days", the source indicated.
Promoted by senior journalists Tarun Tejpal and Aniruddha Bahal, and Minty Tejpal, Tehelka.com got its first round of funding in April when Mumbai-based stock broking firm First Global picked up a 10 per cent stake in the portal for about Rs 5 crore. Following the equity acquisition, Shankar Sharma and Devina Mehra, heads of research at First Global, joined the board of directors of Tehelka.com. Other high profile directors on the web site's board include V S Naipual, Khushwant Singh and Amitabh Bachchan.
Besides, getting into print, Tejpal's company is also mulling a foray into the production of television software. It has started "pitching to the bigger networks" to get the project off the ground "very soon", according to the agencyfaqs! source. Tehelka.com also plans to sign a syndication with regional papers to supply content. However, there's a buzz in the industry that First Global itself is planning to offload a part of the equity to a foreign partner.
Incidentally, Tejpal also owns IndiaInk, which published "The God of Small Things" by Arundhati Roy, which won the 1997 Booker Prize. Again, Buffalo Networks took "a tentative step" into publishing some months back with the publication of Fallen Heroes, based on the controversial video tapes of Manoj Prabhakar. "From publishing books to magazines is the next logical step," observed the head of a Delhi-based advertising agency.
© 2000 agencyfaqs!