Times Internet’s FY19 rev has grown 40% to $196 mn: Satyan Gajwani

MUMBAI: Times Group’s digital arm Times Internet, which has revamped its corporate identity, has seen a 40% growth in revenue in FY19 to close the year at $196 million.

In a blog, Times Internet Vice Chairman Satyan Gajwani has said that the new identity was designed to reflect the dynamism and ubiquity of our platform.

He also stated that the company is targeting 1 billion monthly users across its product ecosystem by 2023. Gajwani has written in detail about the changes that have occurred at Times Internet in the last five years.

Times Internet, Gajwani said, was primarily a digital news publisher five years ago. Today, Times Internet is a wide digital consumer platform, serving over 110 million users daily and 450 million users monthly, across a spectrum of consumer needs.

“Since 2012, we’ve continuously evolved. We first focused on making great products with world-class technology (Gautam Sinha’s rise from CTO to CEO is reflective of that priority). As our products have matured, we’ve refocused on revenue growth (we closed last year with $196 million in revenues, up 40% from FY’18),” he stated.

Gajwani also noted that Times Internet is special as it doesn’t have any direct competitor. “Our biggest task isn’t to beat someone else… it’s to realise the vision that we’ve set for ourselves. We will continue to innovate and scale in our core areas of Inform, Entertain, and Enable, as we constantly evolve and explore new areas of growth.”

Times Internet’s motto is to inform, entertain and enable Indian customers. In news, Times Internet has three verticals news, entertainment and lifestyle. Gajwani said that Times Internet-owned news publications collectively reach 265 million deduplicated consumers.

The company’s entertainment portfolio comprises of music streaming service Gaana and video entertainment service MX Player. Last year, Gaana raised $115 million in a round of investments led by Tencent.

“Our in-house, incubated music platform Gaana has gone from strength to strength. Despite constant new competition in the Indian music streaming market (like this, this, this, and this), Gaana continues to grow, building amazing product features like integrated lyrics, Gaana Videos, and an ever-growing content library. Just last month, the platform crossed 100 million monthly users,” Gajwani averred.

Regarding MXPlayer, Gajwani said that this is the most ambitious bet the company has ever made. “After investing over $150 million to acquire a majority stake, we pivoted the business.”

MXPlayer, he said, is the world’s largest local video playback app, used primarily to play the video files people keep on their phones. Two months ago, MXPlayer was relaunched as a streaming video platform, backed with over 100,000 hours of premium content from partners like Sony and TVF, and a suite of original, premium shows.

“Our shows have gained critical acclaim, and have been consumed by tens of millions of our users. MXPlayer is already one of the top video destinations in India, and we are working to build more great entertainment experiences on the platform,” he noted.

Gajwani also revealed that MXPlayer sees over 1.2 million new installs every day, is installed on over 600 million devices globally, and is present on over half of all Indian smartphones. “Its unparalleled scale offers us a unique and powerful way to engage with the majority of Indian mobile phone users.”

He also highlighted that entertainment is the fastest growing category at Times Internet, in terms of engagement and revenue. “Our entertainment portfolio now represents the majority of minutes across our ecosystem, and as it’s grown, we’ve really come to understand the wider Indian consumer, whose habits and interests don’t necessarily correlate with the global and English speaking consumer.”

Another core area of focus for the company is gaming. According to Gajwani, gaming is a new frontier for Times Internet and it has started with an approach where it seeds multiple gaming plays to see how users respond.

“Our early plays have shown strong engagement, like CricPlay in fantasy cricket, and Qureka and BaaziNow in live entertainment. MPL, one of our latest investments, is growing fast as a casual e-sports platform. We’ll continue to experiment and grow here, while leveraging our large media platforms as effective distribution and growth engines for our gaming ventures,” he said.

He also mentioned the suite of products developed by Times Internet across finance, real estate, food, jobs, education, and more, to serve specific consumer needs. These include digital-first personal finance platform ET Money, real-estate platform MagicBricks, eating out experience platform Dineout, and exam preparation app Gradeup.

Gajwani spoke about the Times Internet datacentre and infrastructure stack which he claimed is one of the most complex in the world, providing stable, fast, and secure access to the company’s variety of products. “Times Internet is a top 5 bandwidth consuming platform in India, and we’ve materially improved our infrastructure in the last year for speed, performance, and reliability.”

The company has also deployed self-healing hybrid cloud servers, powered by 80,000 CPU cores, running over 12,000 instances that allow any of its businesses to scale up and down as needed. “Contrary to what most companies find, when we evaluate other large cloud platforms, we find that our operating flexibility and cost efficiency are greater with our private infrastructure.”

On the talent front, Gajwani disclosed that Times Internet employs 5400 people, with an average age of 31. “Given our scale, our talent strategy this year has been focused on improving diversity and leveraging technology to make us a more innovative and performing work culture.”

Gajwani also pointed out that Times Internet has made investments in six new companies apart from a slew of follow-on investments. The company has ventured into new areas such as gaming, co-living, and health tech.

“Two of our prior investments (BYJU’s and Delhivery) recently crossed the unicorn marker. Delhivery is special to us, as we were the first investor when Delhivery was doing hundreds of deliveries per day. Shuttl and Pratilipi have both become market leaders, Spoyl has re-imagined fashion e-commerce, and Vidooly is the video analytics tool of choice for brand and creators worldwide,” he added.

He also asserted that venture investing has been a core part of the company’s strategy, to stay close to the bleeding edge of tech companies in India. “More importantly, it’s a way for us to be partners and enablers of the best entrepreneurs in India,” he stated.

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