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Techcrunch Parts Ways With PlatformPlay After India Event; Hires India Editor

Update: We just received an email from Ned Desmond, COO of Techcrunch, in which he says the company has no plans to partner or invest in India at this point in time. The full email:

Hi Nikhil,
I think you have seen all we have to say. Pune is not going forward. No separate site. Pankaj is writing for the regular site. We have no plans to partner or invest in India at this time.
Thanks for your interest. Cheers, Ned

Yesterday: MediaNama has learned that AOL-backed Techcrunch and Rammohan Sundaram’s PlatformPlay have parted ways after Techcrunch’s India event, which had taken place last month. Techcrunch COO Ned Desmond has sent an email informing their India advisory board members that there was a lack of alignment between the two companies. A mail sent by Sundaram to advisory board members also states that the partnership has ended, citing an “expectation mismatch”, and also points towards the lack of coverage of the event from Techcrunch. However, this is contrary to the official statement we’ve received (below), after contacting Desmond and Sundaram, which states that the two companies have “suspended” plans for future events, and that the product offering has to be in synch with Techcrunch’s global strategy. 

Techcrunch’s coverage of their own event in Indiawas limited to publishing videos of sessions, even though group website Coolage, which is the only AOL property to have survived in India following a massive clear-out two years ago, found something to write about it. This bizarre situation is possibly now being addressed with Techcrunch appointing an India Editor, in Pankaj Mishra. Mishra was previously National Editor (South) at Mint, operating out of Bangalore.

The emails shared with us indicate that Techcrunch will be looking for new partners in India, and from what we’ve heard from sources ,the event in Pune might not take place. In May this year, Techcrunch and PlatformPlay had announced a partnership for three conferences, starting with Bangalore in November of 2013 (which we covered here), followed by Mumbai in April 2014 and in New Delhi in August 2014. PlatformPlay founder Rammohan Sundaram, in his earlier avatar as the founder of NetworkPlay, had brought Ad:Tech to India. NetworkPlay is now owned by the Bertelsmann Group.

We’re awaiting a response from Desmond, and will update once we have more.

Official statement

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Following the successful TechCrunch Bangalore event on Nov. 14 and 15, TechCrunch and PlatformPlay executives met to discuss the future of the event series, which included plans for follow on events next year in Pune and New Delhi. Despite the solid performance in Bangalore, the two firms agreed to suspend plans for future events.

“We respect what PlatformPlay accomplished on TechCrunch’s behalf in Bangalore,” said Ned Desmond, COO of TechCrunch, “but we are re-assessing aspects of our international strategy and need some time to do so. We have brought on board, Pankaj Misra as a full time TC editor in India and will continue covering the local startup ecosystem.”

“While it is heartening to have seen such tremendous support on the ground we have a lot of things to do to get the product offering right, which needs to be in synch with TechCrunch’s global strategy and so for the moment we will not be doing these events until further notice” said Rammohan Sundaram, CMD of PlatformPlay.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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