Speaking with MediaNama, Vishal Anand, Burrp’s Business Head, summed up the entire Zomato Vs Burrp episode as a PR nightmare for the company and reiterated that Zomato blew things out of proportion. Earlier, Zomato had alleged that Burrp had copied a listing from their site (also read Zomato CEO, Deepinder Goyal’s interview), following which Burrp had also accused Zomato of poaching and posting fake reviews. Excerpts from our interaction with Anand:
MediaNama: How would you respond to Zomato’s allegations of copying listings?
Anand: India’s IPR laws allow any yellow pages business to list names, addresses and other contact details of businesses and no one has a copy right per-se on this. We have a data collection team of 100 people including data collectors who work for AskMe. We also have yellowpages.co.in under our business. I was really surprised and taken aback by all this brouhaha about that phone number on Saturday evening, and how Zomato chose to go public instead of resolving it by just giving us a phone call or sending us a mail.
There have been two such instances earlier and we’ve repected their requests and removed listings. This time, they accused us of data theft, implying that we scrape data, which is not true at all.
MediaNama: But you do agree that the listing was there on Burrp and that there were some goof-ups on the verification end?
Anand: You should do a Google search with the phone number in question and you’d see many more listings on different sites with the same phone number. Why singles us out? And our listings go in millions, they’re not just restricted to 150,000 so there is a possibility that our team missed out on one or two listings. We have checks and balances at each stage since we get tons of user submitted data. We don’t just get data through our collection team which works on the field but also from PR firms, then we have an editorial team which keeps a tab on new places. So at times it becomes challenging but if they had sent us a request, we would have removed it.
MediaNama: But Zomato says that there are more such listings on your website? Some with other Zomato phone numbers?
Anand: We strongly deny it. It is completely untrue. We didn’t do anything wrong. If we’d be stealing stuff, would we post it under our employee’s name? It’s a complete PR war just like Deepinder tweeted the other day. We’re their number one competitor. Listings are one entity but our specialisation was always in reviews, Zomato’s was in Menus.
MediaNama: Talking of menus, what about the menu with the Zomato watermark that appeared on Burrp?
Anand: Well we allow users to upload restaurant pictures. Someone might have felt that a menu would be a good idea and might have posted it. I’ll not accuse Zomato but even they could have done that.
MediaNama: And what about GPS coordinates?
Anand: Well again, we are partners with google and we use gps coordinates from Google maps. Google gives us 6 point coordinates, and they also use information from Burrp. All this is a lie spread by Zomato.
MediaNama: What about your counter allegations against Zomato hinting at poaching and fake reviews?
Anand: We stand by it. We don’t want to stoop down to their level and hit below the belt.
MediaNama: But you haven’t offered any real proof to substantiate them?
Anand: We want this to cool off and get back to business. We don’t want to take it any further. We know how they’ve come to know about our employee (Mangal) from one of our ex-employee working for them.
MediaNama: So are you taking any action against them? What is the further course of action?
Anand: We’ve settled things out, we’ve told them we’ll remove the listings in question. But there is no time frame that we have committed for doing this, unlike what Deepinder told you. Just let’s get back to business. It’s been a nightmare to resolve this thing.