Wortal Inc, which runs events and entertainment portal Buzzintown.com, has received an undisclosed sum in investment from Intel Capital, as a part of a $25 million round of investment in seven new companies and ten for follow-on deals at Intel’s 10th annual CEO summit. Financial Information Network and Operations, a Mumbai-based provider of smartcard based applications has also received funding as a part of the same round.
The Buzzintown funding is a follow up, and its total money raised remains undisclosed: it received a part of a $17 million investment by Intel Capital in three firms in July 2008, along-with travel portal Yatra, and Emnet Samsara Media, an out-of-home (OOH) advertising company.
Wortal Inc was set up in 2006 and will use Intel Capital funds to expand its reach from 19 to thirty more cities and to push media and Internet delivery of content. Buzzintown’s competition is in the form of Upcoming by Yahoo and trade events focussed Indobase Events.
The Newsletter Approach? (by Nikhil Pahwa)
I’ve been quite bullish on the events listing vertical: events and movies are key entertainment segments, and bring communities together both online and offline. Monetization is possible through segmenting and syndicating event listings to publications, enabling ticketing, and charging for featured event listings. The idea is to aggregate a rather fragmented domain, and creating a destination around it. The destination approach, though, is under threat, which is why Buzzintowns presence on Twitter, Facebook, and alerts via mobile is the right approach. Remember that this was tried before, unsuccessfully, with SERaja, which was funded by Rajesh Jain, but it chose to create community site around events. The game has changed since, and the events need to be available on existing communities.
However, what I’ve seen so far in the events space is a generic approach of sorts: while there is segmentation of content, I feel a newsletter approach is best, because it allows segmentation of an audience by profile, particularly when it comes to separating cultural and high-society events, youth events and technology events. Each has a separate advertiser base. An example of an arts and cultural events newsletter is the now defunct Red Fort, which remains a premium database being used now for Red Earth events.
The big challenge for this space still remains in data collection and verification, because much of it is not automated, events are sometimes organized within a couple of weeks, and yet have a short lifespan.
Indian Investments By Intel Capital; Exits
Other companies Intel Capital has previously backed in India: Kolkata-based e-greeting card portal 123Greetings.com, ItzCashCard, animation studio Maya Entertainment Ltd, Bangalore-based IT remote infrastructure provider Microland, Mauj (People Group), software product firm Persistent Systems in Pune, digital editing company Real Image Media Technologies, in-store TV network Tag Media Networks Inc, optical networking products comapny Tejas Networks India and e-learning firm Vriti Infocom.
Intel Capital has also exited from Comat Technologies, a rural information service provider in October 008, NIIT through an open market sale in June 2007, Nipuna Services through a private sale in December 2007, Sharekhan in August 2007, Career Launcher through a private sale in September 2006, Openera Technologies in February 2006, R Systems International in April 2006, India Infoline via IPO in May 2005, Sasken Communication Technologies in September 2005, Deccanet Designs, Elind Computers, Future Soft in 2004, Indus Software Pvt Ltd in 2002 and Bharti Tele Spatial Ltd in 2001. Older exits include Network Solutions, Rediff.com in 2000 via the IPO and Subex Systems.
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