Why Did Rupert Murdoch’s NewsCorp Acquire Indian Startup BigDecisions.com?
Media Mogul Rupert Murdoch, who has $14.9 billion of personal assets, has made his first acquisition of an Indian startup: BestDecisions.com. Murdoch led Newscorp acquired this Mumbai based finance education portal for undisclosed amount.
This acquisition comes a month after Newscorp picked 25% stake in real estate online startup PropTiger for $30 million, thereby signaling his return into the Indian startup scene.
BestDecisions.com was founded in 2013 by Manish Shah, who was working with Citi Bank previously and Gaurav Roy, who has experience of working with KPMG and Arthur Andersen previously.
Robert Thomson, Chief Executive of News Corp shared, “BigDecisions.com will help Indians make the most important decisions by using accurate information tailored to their personal needs. This platform will be high quality, privacy-protected and easy-to-use.”
Rupert Murdoch was pretty clear on this decision, as he shared with TOI, “I am very bullish about India’s future,”
We will try to analyze and discover what prompted Rupert and Newscorp, to acquire an Indian startup, which deals with financial planning?
The Return of The Wizard
Rupert is not a newbie when it comes to Indian startups in digital space. Way back in 2000, during the peak of dotcom bubble, Rupert had invested in two online startups from India: Pradeep Kar led Indya.com and Baazee.com.
Star Network, which is a subsidiary of NewsCorp, first picked up 37% in Indya.com and then ‘nearly whole of it’ within few months for $50 million. After couple of months, Star Network invested $11 million (Rs 47 crore) in Baazee.com, the Indian success story on Internet, which was later acquired by eBay for $50 million in 2004.
The bubble burst after some months, and there is not much information about Rupert or Newscorp’s involvement with either of these startups.
But Why BigDecisions.com?
The recent earth shattering valuations of Indian eCommerce portals Flipkart, Snapdeal and Jabong and the buzz around ecommerce must have forced NewsCorp to revive their India specific investment plans. But why Newscorp, being a Mass Media & Entertainment company, having stakes in almost every big newspaper and magazine all over the world,will acquire a Financial Planning and Education from India?
The answer is: diversification.
One of the most important lessons which dot com bubble bust has given is that, no company should put all their eggs in one basket. And News Corp has done their homework well this time.
The latest round of fresh investments are being led by Raju Narisetti, Vice President for Strategy of News Corp, who has created a well-researched roadmap for investments and acquisitions in India and Asia.
In a recent interview, he stated, “Because it is widely known that News Corp has no debt and started its new journey with $2-billion plus in cash, I am constantly and relentlessly pitched by investment bankers on potential deals. If it makes strategic sense, I tend to take a closer look and from that point of view, most of Asia, including India, will always be on the radar,”
In a separate interview, he had said, “We will continue to be open to relevant opportunities that are generally in and around our core information, publishing, education, real estate businesses in India,”
Some of the start-ups where News Corp have recently invested and/or acquired include:
- Purchased stake in employment listing firm Seek Asia
- Bought stake in iProperty.com for $100 million
- Acquired StoryFul, a social media news agency
- Acquired Harlequin, which publishes fiction novels and stories
- Owns Realtor.com, a real estate company in USA
- Bought 62% stake in REA Group, real estate portal from Australia
Going by the aggressive temperament shown by Rupert and News Corp, it seems that they are very bullish on Indian startups, and idea, and we may see several new acquisitions and investments very soon.
While Rupert Murdoch does not need anyone’s inspiration, I am sure Softbank’s recent Investment spree in India has surely added to his bullishness about India. We do expect lot more investment announcements from him for India in 2015!
What do you think?