Mukta Arts, a BSE listed Media and Entertaiment co founded by filmmaker Subhash Ghai has picked up a 51 percent stake in Coruscant Tec, a mobile VAS co founded by Ajay Adiseshann and Probir Roy in 2003. The two Coruscant promoters have also founded mobile payment company Paymate, which has received funding from KPCB and Sherpalo Ventures. According to the BSE filing by Mukta Arts,
The Company (Coruscant) is undercapitalized and was seeking investors who could create and aggregate content which is the key to this business. For Mukta Arts which has access to short content created by Whilstling Woods students and Audio and Film content, Coruscant was a good platform. Mukta has the option of acquiring the balance 49%.
It’s an all cash deal, and there are targets that Coruscant will have to meet, Probir Roy, co-founder of Coruscant told MediaNama. “It is in our interest to grow the customer base and the revenues”. Coruscant currently has only India specific licenses, but their mandate will now be to leverage Mukta Arts content, particularly in international markets, where “prices are more favourable.” Roy declined to detail any international expansion plans. Coruscant has around 13-14 agreements in place. They’ve provided Java based games to Indiatimes, images to Soundbuzz, developed the mobile versions of Man’s World Magazine, MF Husains paintings, and Uncle Pai’s comics (from Lalit Media).
More on the state of the company and our take on the deal:
Roy declined to comment on the whether the company is profitable or not. The Coruscant founders always wanted to get into the mobile payments business, and once Paymate was launched, the Coruscant sale was always on the cards. It’s just taken some time to find the right partner who is able to take it to the next level. “We have been doing a holding operation for the last year or two.” They did not seek VC funding because that would mean running two companies at the same time.
Adiseshann and Roy will remain on the board, while Subhash Ghai will join the board as Chairman, alongwith two other members from Mukta Arts. Adiseshann and Roy owned a majority stake in the company, and all other shareholders will also have to participate in the deal. The company has 10-12 employees.
Bollywood music content is what appears to be making the money in the VAS business, monetized largely as Caller RingBack Tones. Consequently, Coruscant would have had to raise funding to finance the content acquisition, to be able to achieve any significant scale. Roy and Adiseshann are more focused on payments business (Paymate), so an exit was on the cards anyway. Anyone acquiring the company would have acquired either the content/licensing arrangements, or the competency and distribution arrangements. Mukta has the content, and they acquired the latter.