The TV18 Group's & #BANNER1 & # Internet arm, Web18, has acquired three companies in the Internet space: cricketnext.com, compareindia.com and Urban Eye, a web design and technology firm. These acquisitions will help the group further consolidate its focus on the Internet business. Though pressed by agencyfaqs!, Haresh Chawla, CEO, TV18, declined to divulge the financial details of the three deals.
Cricketnext.com and compareindia.com are both in the retail consumer space. The former is an Indian sports portal and claims a user base of over five million people. According to Chawla, the cricketnext.com deal will help Web18 grab eyeballs because cricket is a craze in India.
"The sheer viewer base and demographic profiles that we will be able to tap into are tremendous. And sports is an integral part of our news coverage," he explains. Cricketnext.com will also complement the group's online news portal, ibnlive.com, and the television channels, CNN-IBN and IBN7.
Together, these two portals will complement some of the key television and Internet properties of the TV18 Group. Compareindia.com is a product comparison site which claims a user base of over two million†people and offers a comprehensive product comparison engine with several products in over 50 categories. This portal will help synergise with the TV18 Group's popular financial portal, moneycontrol.com, and will also draw synergies with Awaaz, TV18's Hindi consumer business offering on television.
Urban Eye, on the other hand, is an Indian web design and technology firm, with over 50 specialised Internet technology professionals on its rolls. It will help Web18 scale up its operations rapidly.†It has been servicing clientele from abroad. When asked if it will continue to do so, Chawla says, "We may look at leveraging the overseas aspect later on, but at present, Urban Eye will large service the TV18 Group."
The companies are currently being restructured so as to align their operations with those of Web18. Currently, there is a team of over 250 people in place. The two portals will be relaunched shortly.
According to Chawla, the Internet is rapidly growing in India and, by 2008, the online user base is expected to grow to 100 million. Accordingly, TV18 has also been growing its Internet presence organically as well as through relevant acquisitions. "These acquisitions are in line with our strategy to strengthen our position in the consumer Internet space," Chawla says. "We expect consumer focused services such as online recruitment, financial services, travel services, product comparisons, home shopping and sports to drive the growth of the Internet in India."
This is the second round of acquisitions that Web18 has announced. The company acquired a significant stake in Yatra.com and Jobstreet.com India a few months ago.
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