Exclusive: Changes afoot at Spice Digital* and Spice Labs: Siddhartha Jain has been appointed the CEO of Spice Labs, responsible for the development of consumer applications at the company. Dr. Abhinav Mathur, will focus primarily on his primary role as the Chief of Strategy and Technology of Si2i Mobility, which he held in conjuction with being the CEO of Spice Labs until this Monday.
MediaNama has also learned that the enterprise division of Spice Labs has been shuttered, with the team being laid off, and the company is going to focus primarily on the consumer part of the business. Confirming this, Jain said that the company has decided to focus on “What is giving us value, and what can give us scale is what we want to focus on.”
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Speaking with MediaNama, Spice Digital CEO Saket Agarwal said that Spice Labs will focus on the advertising supported part of the business, and Pankaj Gupta, COO at Spice Digital, will cover three primary mandates: Spice Gang, Spice Digital’s MRE applications store with MediaTek, and video alert services. “Initially our mandate was to create the app store, and for this to become a self sustainable business we’re putting a serious resource behind it. We have Pankaj Gupta, our COO, to look at that side. One mandate was for us wa to look at the meeting the demand of meeting the app store. On the other front, it was for it to become a self sustainable business as well. The effort was spent on creating the infra on creating app store and applications. We’re putting in a serious resource. Data related projects at Spice Digital are under one single head now. We do work in Spice Digital (i.e., outside of Spice Labs) under Android app store, and have created 100 odd applications in the last few months. Vodafone’s initiative (of sharing 70% revenues post taxes with third party developers) is exciting.”
We’ve heard of layoffs in the MRE App store team, and Agarwal said that on a team of 20 odd developers, four or five people were laid off. “It’s more rationalization in terms of the fact that the building of the app store was completed, and we need fewer people to develop applications. We’ve made 300 MRE apps. It’s all gone in production, and majority of new handsets are coming preloaded with the MRE client. Now we are looking at a trimmed down team to deliver.”
Why is labs being kept separate? “It is more a B2C initiative, where it is an advertising led model, where we have our own advertising engine. Pankaj and Spice digital will be about charging through operator pipe, in conjunction with our device business.”
*Disclosure: Spice Digital is an advertiser with MediaNama