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This is unusual: Naukri puts in Rs 3 crore in phonebook app Dirolabs

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Mobile phonebook management company Dirolabs has raised 3 crores (via convertable shares) from Naukri.com parent Info Edge, selling 11.5% stake to the company. This raise thus values Dirolabs at around Rs 26 crores, approximately $3.8 million.

Dirolabs’ Phonebooks app isn’t live yet but it has some interesting features:
– Group phonebooks: It allows users to create a group phone books which can be shared with friends and family.
– Users can also create private phone books where only key members on the group will have rights to edit.
– Removing duplicate accounts: Android phones screws the phone book up by integrating gmail contacts as well, which becomes particularly problematic if there are multiple email accounts linked. It’s usually a pain to remove duplicate accounts, so we’re keen to see how effective Phonebooks feature for removing duplicate accounts is.

The app also syncs with social networks and backs it up on a cloud. The company has offices in Delhi, UK and the United States .

MediaNama’s Take

Firstly, Info edge typically doesn’t do mobile investments and usually invests in online marketplace and transaction businesses. While a significant majority of Zomato’s user base is online, one should remember that it began as an online only business in its earlier avatar of Foodiebay. On several conference calls, we’ve questioned Info Edge about not participating in the mobile sector, and frankly, it has been slow even with their transition to mobile for their own applications.

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What is also unusual here is that Dirolabs, at first sight, doesn’t appear to be a typical marketplace business. Info Edge prefers to invest in marketplace and service businesses: if you look at their history, none is an out-and-out product business. This is a first, and it is a major risk. Why? Well, who owns your phonebook (apart from you)? For the longest time, it was painful to port the phonebook from phone to phone, because the operating system was never online, and the process was cumbersome for most human beings. You’d go and give your phone for repairs, and the first thing the person would tell you is that they would reset the phone.

That changes (somewhat) with operating systems that were connected to the Internet and came with storage: from iOs and Android, you have the ability to back up your data on the cloud. Still, the operating system now wants to be the primary repository of your contacts data. As the saying goes, the phonebook is your real life social network. They wouldn’t exactly want to give up that space to a third party application, so the danger for Phonebooks is that, with success and scale, their primary competition will be an OS provider, which has the ability to enable such features natively, without needing to download an application. Therein also lies the opportunity for the company: of being acquired by an OS provider. But that’s just a possibility and we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves…the app hasn’t even launched.

Ps: am on the waitlist to try our Dirolabs, so to bump me up on the waitlist, here’s my referral code.

Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

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

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