Call ChennaiYahoo has picked up appoximately 30% stake in Info Network Management Company, a Chennai headquartered phone directory search service. Yahoo will appoint one director to INMCs board. The amount invested has not been disclosed, nor has Yahoo mentioned whether it is a cash deal, or a stock deal. [Via release]

According to their website, INMC was set up in 1998, and launched a portal The tele information business, Call Chennai, was established in 2005. The company is a part of the Unicard Group of Companies, which consists of Unicard Marketing, Unique Farms and Holidays, apart from INMC.

Revenues and Targets
INMS claims to have generated revenues of Rs. 4 crores in 2007-08, and plans to achieve double that revenue by the end of the 2008-09 fiscal, and Rs. 24 crores by 2009-10. The company employs around 450-500 people, and plans to increase headcount to 2000 by the end of next year.

Call Ezee is present in 14 cities in India, and plans to expand its network to 26 cities by 2010. They claim to generate 10,000 calls per day, which appears to be very low – an average of 715 calls day per city, or just around 60 calls per hour per city if you assume a 12 hour call center.

More on synergy, business model and competition

INMAC will probably provide local business information data to Yahoo Local, and could provide phone based support to Yahoo Local. Remember that Google also has also launched local business information services in India; the fact that Call Ezee has a presence in 14 cities will negate Googles head start. INMAC/Call Ezee also has a rather poorly designed website, so perhaps that’s where Yahoo can come in and help develop and online business model.

Business Model
Local information services on the phone are monetized in two ways
— Audio ads are played before an operator takes the query, or puts the caller on hold while searching for the information
— Lead generation: Based on the query, leads in the form of email addresses and/or phone numbers are provided to relevant vendors by email or SMS. The vendors can then contact consumers for closing the sale. A year or so ago, when I had last checked, the price per lead paid by a vendor was around Rs. 70.

Competing with Call Ezee will be companies like Infomedia IndiaJust DialAskLailaGetit Yellow Pages all of which have their own database of information.

The key
The key resource for any such company is thei database, and its freshness.

Note: Do read Mark Cuban’s post on what Yahoo should do, where he suggests that “Yahoo should be on the warpath, vetting each and every media (yes media) and technology company it can sit down with looking for bargains. It should be taking Yahoo stock and finding every and any accretive investment in the internet and media space that it possibly can.” We think it’s unlikely that Yahoo would have parted with stock for a company which doesn’t, on the face of it, appear to bring in technology that can be deployed globally, or a unique business model with a large customer base.

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Disclosure: I own shares of Network18, which has a majority stake in Infomedia India.