Web18 COO Rishi Khiani has put in his papers, reports ContentSutra. MediaNama has also confirmed the development independently from Khiani , who said that he hasn’t quite decided his future course of action: “My stint at Network18 has helped me grow both personally and professionally. Time is right for me to take next step, but I haven’t decided what. I have a couple offers – from an Internet company and a VC Firm, and I’ll make my decision once my term ends at Network18.” Speculation had been rife about Khiani joining Times Internet (Indiatimes) a couple of months ago, but when we had contacted him, Khiani had denied any plans. The rumor had re-surfaced last month as well, and had again been denied.
This move is not surprising – Khiani had joined the Network18 group when his design company UrbanEye Media was acquired by them three years ago. A little over year ago, as a part of a restructuring, he was appointed COO for the companys Content verticals. We had it from our sources that Khiani’s options (which he received when UrbanEye was acquired by Network18) would be maturing in August, and he was likely to move on. Khiani told MediaNama that his three year contract ends on July 31st. UrbanEye has been responsible for the design that has differentiated Web18 properties from their peers.
With this development, it means that two key executives at Web18 have put in their papers this year – first CTO Varun Singh left to start up (ScalArc Inc), now COO Khiani is leaving. We wouldn’t be surprised if Khiani starts up as well. Two key executives leaving a company (albeit loss-making) that has registered for an IPO at NASDAQ isn’t a good sign. This leaves a leadship vacuum at the company. Of course, CEO Surya Mantha is still at the helm, and Joyson Thomas, among Moneycontrols first employees, remains COO for their Financial verticals. That said, senior Network18 executives can always pitch in when needed; from what we’ve heard from our sources in Web18, they have been “helping out” for quite a while.