Much before the start-up boom that we have seen in the last 5 years, there was a dot-com boom two decades back. That period is often associated with the dot-com bubble in the US, but it has its own set of success story.
“Naukri.com” is a household name. It was perhaps the first time India was introduced not just to the ‘world wide web’ but also its most important application. This ‘Naukri.com’ came from the house of InfoEdge. Today, InfoEdge is an umbrella subsuming various domains. Here goes the story.
The founder Sanjeev Bhikchandani graduated from IIM, worked with renowned GlaxoSmithKline and later moved to try his hand at entrepreneurship. In 1990, he and his partner founded two companies ‘InfoEdge’ and ‘IndMark’. InfoEdge focused on salary surveys.
Various companies would buy this data to analyze what would be the right package for certain jobs and qualifications. IndMark focused on database of trademarks. This helped companies pick right names, logos or other trademarks so that they do not get into copyright issues later. The partners later split in 1993, with Sanjeev getting the InfoEdge.
Instead of continuing ahead, Sanjeev went back in the job. Fortunately, destiny had something else for him. In 1996, the internet began in India. He saw his friends seeing appointment ads in magazines. His brother in the US funded the website for a mere 5% stake, and Naukri.com began.
The aim was clear; get hirers and seekers on one platform. They needed a database, which they created from job magazines.Soon the traffic began. The media started writing about it. People asked candidates where they got to know from, they answered ‘naukri.com’. Now companies started paying for its job advertisements. There was no turning back from here.
Upping the ante
ICICI funded InfoEdge for 15% stake. In 2006, Naukri (InfoEdge) became the first Indian web company to be listed on BSE Sensex. When Naukri launched its IPO, its share was priced ₹320. It was called overpriced due to P/E of 52! (Infosys was 41). The stock rose to ₹628 within 20 minutes of listing. Today, the company has a market cap of over $4bn.
InfoEdge has been very dynamic in its approach. They knew they were susceptible to recession. Less jobs means less ‘naukri’. They started various ventures of theirs on similar model. Today InfoEdge group directly operates 8 ventures and controls other 6 through investmentsJeevansaathi.com, the famous matrimonial site, was launched in 1998. In later years they came up with Shiksha.com, NaukriGulf, and Quadrangle.In 2012, they also launched their mobile app for Naukri.com
In 2010, InfoEdge made an investment that realized much late but shows the vision of Sanjeev Bhikchandani. This investment was now food delivery and restaurant catalogue giant, Zomato. This is what lies in the InfoEdge group. Zomato was not their only key investment. They also own now much known ‘Policybazaar’. Other ownerships are ‘Meritnation’ and ‘MyDala’. However, the one doing buzz lately is ‘99Acres’.
The Current Scenario
Naukri now plans to take on Microsoft-owned recruitment giant ‘LinkedIn’. However, they say that it is for active job seekers, unlike LinkedIn that is more for networking and passive job search. They are investing heavily in technologies like Machine Learning and AI for the same.
The Final Word
The only problem they had in replicating success of Naukri was they had active competitors everywhere. JeevanSaathi was against Bharat Matrimony, and 99Acres against Commonfloor and Housing.com. Nevertheless, they are staying in the competition and staying strong.
The InfoEdge group is the story of a successful Indian start-up that came up much before the term coined. In its journey of 30 years, it saw many ups and downs, but due to diversified business and visionary leadership, they could always sail ahead in the rough. InfoEdge is an entrepreneurial delight, indeed.