NDTV’s board has approved a fund-raising for its auto portal CarAndBike.com (Fifth Gear Ventures Limited) from Autobyte Private Limited. CarAndBike.com is essentially what used to be NDTV Auto, and is a site which allows consumers to research vehicles, buy and sell used cars, and has news and reviews of cars and bikes.

Following the “infusion of funds” in Fifth Gear Ventures Ltd, the shareholding of the NDTV group in the business will be diluted, and the control and management of the venture will be transferred to Autobyte. Fifth Gear will cease to be a subsidiary of NDTV, following this fund-raising. Details of the transaction – the amount being invested, the shareholding being diluted – are not yet available.

NDTV has little information available about CarAndBike.com. Its website says that it lists over “42 [vehicle] manufacturers and 336 [vehicle] models. In its 2015-16 annual report, NDTV said that it had

“doubled its traffic within six months of its launch. It currently has one of the highest time spent on Product Pages amongst all auto portals in the Country. The site has on-boarded eight manufacturers for direct sale of cars and bikes, covering 40% of market pan India. The portal has done four exclusive launches since inception and attracted around 50,000 customers. It has also launched the first ever C2C auction engine in the country and is getting ready to launch a Hindi site to capture the larger vernacular play.

Subsidiary financials for Fifth Gear Ventures Limited for FY16 indicate:

  • Revenue from Operations of Rs 49,583
  • Other income of Rs 14,90,387
  • Loss for the period of Rs 3,76,29,853

As of 2016 end, NDTV Ltd had held 39.57% in the company, while 39.58% was held by NDTV Convergence Ltd. Oddly, the group had another company with a similar name: Fifth Gear Auto Limited. Some shares were a part of an ESOP plan.

Of course, things could have changed, and we’ll know more once NDTV publishes its FY17 annual report or closes the fund-raising and informs the stock exchange.

What is Autobyte, though?

We checked, and there’s a LinkedIn page here, which says that the company “aims to enrich the automotive world with personalised mobility solutions using technology and artificial intelligence.” It is headquartered in Chennai and was founded last year (2016). It links to http://www.shiftauto.com/, which isn’t functional. The logo appears to be similar to Autobyte.co (redirects from autobyte.in), a Chennai based business which, it seems, provides a sales optimisation to automotive retail companies, helping in sales conversion. It also provides data and analytical tools for insurance resellers.

Competition

The online auto space isn’t very crowded anymore: Girnarsoft, the parent company of CarDekho, Gaadi and ZigWheels, the last two of which it acquired from Naspers and the Times of India group respectively, reported revenues of $17.5 million for the year ended March 31, 2017 (FY17), which was up 38% year-on-year (YoY). The business claims an EBITDA burn of less than $0.6 million. More here. Cardekho is backed by Google Capital, Hillhouse Capital, Tybourne Capital, Sequoia Capital, as well as Ratan Tata and HDFC Bank. The company has raised well over $65 million so far.

Other automobile marketplaces include Droom, which recently raised $20 million, and a listings portal Truebil. Cartrade also raised $55 million earlier this year. It acquired Carwale.com a couple of years ago.