The Ken, a subscription based online media publication, has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Paytm Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma, which it disclosed as a footnote to a story today. Rohin Dharmakumar, co-founder at The Ken, speaking to MediaNama, said that the publications policy is to disclose investor names as and when when they do a story where disclosures are necessary. Today, the Ken did a story on Paytm competitor Snapdeal. Dharmakumar said that The Ken hasn’t yet closed their funding round, and declined to comment further. This investment had been disclosed in a previous story, but we had missed that.
Sharma was not in a position to comment at the time of writing this story, and we’ll update if we hear from him.
The Ken was founded by journalists Rohin Dharmakumar, Seema Singh and Ashish Mishra, and Deck App Technologies founder Sumanth Raghavendra, and has four other staff writers. The publication provides one original narrative story each day, kept behind a paywall; one story a week is made free to read, and it’s worth noting that Paytm was the launch sponsor of the weekly free story.
The Ken is also facing a defamation lawsuit, filed in Hajipur by former Jabong MD Praveen Sinha, for its pre-launch story on alleged transactions between Jabong, Gojavas and Snapdeal.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s Media investments
This is the latest in a series of online media investments made by Sharma, which include:
- DealStreetAsia, a publication focused on venture deals in South East Asia, which has also been backed by the Singapore Angel Network and HT Media. Its founder, Joji Philip, used to work with HT Media’s business publication Mint.
- FactorDaily, a publication focused on “intersection of technology with life, culture and society in India”, has raised a part of its $1 million funding from Sharma. Other investors include Accel Partners and Blume Ventures. FactorDaily had been started year by Pankaj Mishra, Jayadevan PK and Titash Neogi.
- While not a direct investment by Sharma, his company Paytm has also invested in NDTV Gadgets360, which also covers technology, but also runs an affiliate advertising business. In Q4FY16, Gadgets360 reported a Gross Merchandise Value (essentially sales driven via its content) of Rs 27 crore, although this number isn’t indicative of how much NDTV earned from the sales.
Recent funding in the online media space
- Newslaundry, in February 2016, announced raising of an undisclosed amount of funding from Omidiyar Networks (which took 18.4% stake), and “Vikram Lal, Mahesh Murthy, Abhijit Bhandari and Shashank Bhagat (through United India Periodical Pvt Ltd)”.
- YouthKiAwaaz raised Rs 4 crore from Raghav Bahl’s Quintillion Media in September 2015.
- ScoopWhoop raised $4 million from Kalaari Capital in November 2015.
- YourStory Media raised a Series A round of funding from Kalaari Capital, Qualcomm Ventures, T V Mohandas Pai and Ratan Tata in August 2015.
- The News Minute raised an undisclosed amount of angel funding from Quintillion Media in December 2015.
Disclosure: some of these publications (The Ken, NDTV Gadgets 360, DealStreetAsia, FactorDaily and YourStory) may have an overlap with MediaNama’s coverage.