Tuesday, November 27, 2007

HT Media's multi-million dollar mistake - The DesiMartini Acquisition

DesiMartini, an Indian Facebook clone, was recently acquired by HT Media. The deal was made by HT Media through their online subsidiary Firefly eVentures. The Press Release said that the deal was valued less than USD 10 million. Obviously, the numbers were aimed at adding newziness to the deal. Even if the actual deal went through at USD 1 million, the news is more difficult to digest than the supposed USD 15 billion valuation for Facebook.

The guys at DesiMartini seem to have struck a windfall of fortune. Here's a site that never took off. Rather, a site that had and has no reason to take off. I mean why would anyone want to use DesiMartini? I am still searching for one justifiable excuse. Agreed, it is supposed to be completely Desi, But what value does a desi social network give me over an Orkut or a Facebook - sites which despite being non-desi have already seen Internet users in India flocking to them. Also, while Orkut/Facebook are defining the social networking experience, DesiMartini is still struggling to create a poor clone. There is absolutely nothing to it that would make anyone want to use it. In fact, DesiMartini does not even have any presence in the minds of the Indian consumer. But HT still seems to have found a reason to acquire the site.

I can only draw two possible explanations for this deal:

  1. The DesiMartini founder, Vivek Pahwa, is the world's greatest salesman.
  2. The guy calling the shots at HT Media loved the name. (I agree it sounds nice. And I am inclined to believe this.)
On a more serious note, the guys at HT don't seem to have an understanding of the Internet space. They were destined to make a mistake right from the time they started scouting for a social networking acquisition. Hopefully, for the huge price that has been paid, HT Media would do well to learn a lesson.

I'd surely be looking forward to their next online venture i.e. an entry into the online verticals classified space.


Abitha said...

I think Vivek Pahwa created it in the first place to play on the facebook hype and crack a deal like this.

The name sure makes me wonder what desimartini ingredients literally would be! ( any fun guesses?) There is nothing desi about desimartini.com except for the target region and place of origin. Nice self promo on the home page though on Youtube, matches better for facebook.

Sites like Facebook, MySpace, Youtube sure are capturing the attention of a young crowd and a huge chunk of wannabes making the Internet a chilled out space to interact and socialize.

These are high traffic generators that make figures on Internet usage go berserk!

While we are on that trip here are some lines from jasonmoffatt's blog. He is nothing special, just a frustrated facebook user with strong language, giving his point of view. Read on...
Here’s my beef with Facebook…

It’s got so many modules and applications that the whole damn thing is confusing as hell. Sure, if you are a 9th grade lad who has all the time in the world to read… “Johnny sent you Vampire Invitation” or “Bonnie sent you a Naughty Request” then I can understand why you may like Facebook.

But I’m no high school kid with all the time in the world to read pointless messages. Yes, pointless, annoying, irrelevant to me making money messages! Please stop sending them.

If you want to be my friend fine. Just add me.

But for the life of god please don’t send me a damn Beer on Facebook. Seriously, don’t even think of sending me a digital beer that I can’t even drink!

Personally I want to make a application that “Throws Beer In Your Face” every time someone sends me a beer that I can’t even drink. You might as well send me a half rack of warm Milwaukee’s Best to my doorstep, because it’s going to end up in the same place… The Trash!

If you want to send me a beer, buy a nice case of imported beer and send it to my house. Or buy me one at a seminar, but don’t send me one on Facebook. What a waste of time! And hey, if you send beer to my house, guess what the chance of me sending a affiliate promotion for you would be? DING DING DING, probably about 100% most of the time.

But when you send me irrelevant garbage on Facebook that just confuses me, wastes my time, and annoys the hell out of me what do you think you get?

That’s right, a big WTF?

Listen, I don’t hate these social networking sites. In fact, I love Myspace. Myspace is chill because I don’t get 9000 different people sending me bullshit that I can’t do anything with. Myspace does a great job of cutting down spam and making things really simple.

Facebook on the other hand has so many idiots creating applications that should be taken out back and shot like Old Yeller! Why in the hell would I want to join a group called “Magic 8 Ball Group” or “People Who Wear Crocs Suck”?

Can somebody say total waste of time?

Not only is it a waste of time, but it’s polluting what could be a decent site. Facebook, you blow. Your application developers blow, and most of the users blow too!

Boy, can you tell how much I love Facebook.

So please don’t ask me to “write on your wall”, join your “dragon group” or any other juvenile garbage that goes on in Facebook. If you want to have a legitimate talk, let’s talk. But contacting me about joining your high schoolish lame group is not the way to get my attention.

Okay, I think you get my feelings about Facebook.

However, I will say if you are a developer and you have half a brain left in your noggin, Facebook can be killer. I know a guy who built a app and has over 1,000,000 users download it. I think it has about 5000 or so active users everyday.

It’s a module that is cool, and serves a purpose. It’s not some lame “come join our Donkey Show Secrets Group”.

So Facebook does have some potential in my mind, but only if you are a developer who is creating something useful that others really want to use."

He could very well be MySpace's corporate blogger but does have a point on the junk and the beer ofcourse :). If you feel like defending facebook visit his blog (http://www.jasonmoffatt.com/dir/273)
and leave your comment.

Nimish V Adani said...

Your assumption that Vivek Pahwa created DesiMartini to crack a deal like this may be true. But, start-ups built with the objective of selling out is not a good sign for the Internet industry. These are symptomatic of a bubble. Hopefully, there is a larger set of people who are building Internet companies that focus on creating value for the customers rather than making a quick buck for themselves.

Joe said...

Bang on Nimish :)

I do not see a single reason why a Natarajan/Naresh Pande/Sowmya Ramanathan/Sheetal Gupta needs an Indian social networking site.

It can be equated to the "e-mail" story. I dont need a Indiatimes/rediff/sify email ID, since Yahoo/Gmail are doing a good job already.

On delivering services/products online, its totally a different story altogether.

I simply dont understand as to why these so called "Indian Internet Gurus" dont understand this plain logic.