firstbizNetwork18 has launched FirstBiz, a business news portal that it says will be “different”, and owes its origins to the FirstPost stable. Just as Tech2 was integrated recently into FirstPost, the business offering BizTech2 is now being integrated into FirstBiz, CEO Durga Raghunath has announced today. This is Network18’s second rollout in a week: last Monday, it rolled out News18, a state-specific news website. Raghunath writes that the site is a work in progress, and has been launched with the idea of this being an election year, and the growth in consumption of content on the digital medium. Apps for the iPad and Android smartphones are being launched as well.

FirstBiz Segments & Approach

FirstPost already had a business section, so this is being carved out as a separate site, with the intent of growing it. So there is already historical content there. What’s interesting here is that the integration of BizTech2 into FirstBiz is very different from that of Tech2 into FirstPost: while Tech2 retained its branding, BizTech2 hasn’t. This is effectively curtains for Biztech2 (as far as we’re concerned).

What’s interesting here is that FirstBiz is not just targeting only businesses and entrepreneurs, but “all economic agents driven by aspiration, the need for a quick turnaround on news and views is even more vital”. The plan, it appears, it to go mass with business news: “If business news consumption is plateauing, it is more because of how business is reported or written about in the digital media. But we at Firstbiz believe there is a way to coax every reader to become a business news reader. We also believe that CEOs can use digital media more, if content were tailored and useful. And so can the CEO’s spouse, for everyone who has economic power is a potential business news consumer.” Raghunath writes.

firstbiz-homeMore than anything, we’re intrigued by this: “…make Business inclusive. Digital media by its very nature allows us to focus on both the big picture and the niche. We don’t have constraints of inches or minutes, we can afford to have a very long tail. So we will cater to big business, the medium-sized business, the small entrepreneur and very small entrepreneurs working out of their homes.” I thought FirstPost would have realized by now that the long-tail of content isn’t very long, and the life-cycle of each story is relatively short. What appears to be working for FirstPost, though, is social. However, we do hope that there is more of a focus on providing value for readers beyond mere link-bait: I had to point out this factually incorrect headline to FirstPost Tech today morning.

FirstBiz has sections for corporate, money, economy and International, some of which have significant overlap at present. What interested us were segments on Startups and Data. Coverage of both segments in India is rather poor, and FirstBiz hasn’t done much there to begin with. They might want to develop that data section as a separate sub-site, with better sub-segmenting and discovery of data.

FirstPost Enters Moneycontrol & Forbes India Territory?

This puts FirstBiz in territory, even though the target markets are different. We’re wondering why Web18 would risk competing with their own cash-cow: Moneycontrol is possibly the only website that has been consistently profitable for them, and even though it has not been able to fund all of Web18’s losses over the years. There will be significant areas of overlap, but it’s important to note that Moneycontrol targets the stock market investor, FirstBiz will target a more generic audience. The overlap, perhaps, might be greater with Forbes India, which focuses more on business. Forbes has history in India, and the buzz at the time that the founding team left the company, the was that Network18’s contract with Forbes might not be renewed. (read: Forbes India Asks Top Editorial Team To Leave)

Anyway, we hope FirstBiz will go beyond just commentary and interviews, and break stories as well. Also, lets not forget that IBNLive also has a business section. (read: More Musical Chairs At Network18′s Internet Businesses)

Last week, Network18 launched News18, which has a significant overlap with IBNLive. While Web18 could pull the plug on IBNLive and shift to News18 (although it should be only FirstPost for general news), it’s unlikely that they’ll take a risk with MoneyControl. (read: Network18 Launches State Centric News Site: News18)

It’s worth noting that the Network18 group laid off a significant number of their employees, including many at Web18 and Infomedia, with the intent of taking an “integrated newsroom” approach, with an eye on building the business with digital in mind.

Layoffs At Web18: Sources Say, Moneycontrol, Tech2 Impacted Most
TV18 Lays Off 30% Employees: Reports; Web18?

Disclosure: It looks like FirstBiz’s coverage will have some overlap with MediaNama going forward