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#NAMA: Satyan Gajwani On Times Internet’s Changing Avatar

Speaking at the #Nama conference, Satyan Gajwani, CEO of Times Internet* spoke about the changing mindset at Times Internet from its previous Indiatimes avatar. He said that Indiatimes was a previously a collection of several sub-brands under it, while Times Internet operates several standalone digital businesses, of which Indiatimes is just one, with other businesses being TimesofIndia.com, Gaana.com, Boxtv.com, TimesDeal among others.

He stated that they are now trying to minimize the amount of overheads in each businesses and several of the company’s new digital businesses like Gaana or Boxtv do not carry any Indiatimes branding, since they are of the belief that these businesses should be strong enough to survive standalone, like other startups in the market, rather than Indiatimes backing behind it.

Speaking about the changes in the company’s management, Gajwani stated that they are trying to run the company in small divisions with each product division being taken care of by a business head, who would be responsible for the product. He said this approach is much more effective rather having a big company with several businesses under it, since small companies are nimble and can iterate quickly unlike big companies which are weighed down by bureaucratic processes.

He also added that they were open to ideas which could scale these businesses and look for independent funding for these businesses, if needed.

Speaking on his role at the company, Gajwani stated that he is getting less involved in individual products and letting business heads of each specific business make their own independent decisions to drive the business, since this approach offers a greater sense of autonomy and incentives to the people involved.

On Timesdeal promo code leak: Speaking about the recent alleged Timesdeal promo code leak, he reiterated that the promo code was an accident and was not an intentional strategy from the company. He also added that they made the deal coupons free on the portal as an experiment, since it was getting boring to do the same thing as other deal sites in the country, and Timesdeal was not making much money for the company.  He noted that they are neither charging the merchant nor the consumer in the current model.

Gajwani stated that out of the ten businesses they launch, there is a great opportunity for the company even if five or six businesses actually deliver on the target. For those businesses which are not working, they try tweaking the model, however Gajwani noted that some businesses might eventually die in the long run.

Gajwani stated that they are now looking at two primary criterion before launching any new business. One is whether the business has a mobile-centric strategy and another is whether the business can scale to 100 million users. He added that for new businesses like Gaana and Boxtv, they are not currently being measured on profit but their primary goal is to reach out to millions of users in the country. He hoped that content costs will eventually rationalize and become logical once they reach a certain scale and one has to be a big player before seeking leverage on content providers.

Shift from a content company to technology company:  Gajwani said that Times Internet was previously a content company with technology back end but they are now turning to be a product and technology company with a content backend. He noted that Times Internet has hired 30-40 people from Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) and they will be doing large recruitment drives across various campuses in the forthcoming months.

Elaborating on how they are attracting talent, he noted that there is a diversity of products being developed in Times Internet, unlike in MNCs. He also noted that they are talking to various startups to work together and hinted at acquiring one or two startups in the future, either incubated by themselves or from outside and provide resources to build engaging products.

New services: Going forward, Gajwani hinted about launching a new mobile service which integrates both offline and online experiences for consumers. Although he didn’t provide any specific details on the service. He also hinted that they intend to add fresh content including latest movies to its Boxtv service in the coming future. He noted that Boxtv is currently available to a few hundred people right now.

Working with Operators: Gajwani stated that there are currently too many complications working with mobile operators right now. They had initially thought of launching Boxtv with an operator but dumped the plans after observing all the complications that came along with it.

*Disclosure: Times Internet is an advertiser with Medianama.

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