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The Times Group (BCCL), had hived off its classifieds business into a separate entity called Times Business Solutions Ltd (TBSL), and appointed R. Sundar as CEO and Rajiv Gaur as COO. The move was officially announced a few days ago. TBSL includes e-recruitment services (Timesjobs & SmartHire), real estate portal MagicBricks, matrimonial classifieds site SimplyMarry (formerly Times Matri), general classifieds site (still in beta) Yolist.com, and advertising booking service Ads2book.com. I don’t think this can be about strategic independence (unlikely, in case of BCCL), so my sense is that TBSL may be preparing to raise funds either from Private Equity players (Sequoia Capital has funded sister concern Times Internet Ltd) or an IPO. There have been murmurs about an IPO for TBSL, but we haven’t been able to confirm those. I tried to get a better sense of what TBSL is planning to do from R. Sundar:
Why was Times Business Solutions hived off?
We’re still a wholly owned company, and a part of the Times Group. The idea was to create a separate identity. For BCCL, print remains the main component, and the processes of the print business and the online business are different; the dynamics are different.
Is Times Business is planning to go for an IPO?
My job as the CEO is to create value for the organization. Decisions like IPOs are the prerogative of the shareholders. As far as the operations is concerned, people are happy, and we’re able to attract new talent. In this avatar as TBSL, we’re able to create technologically savvy organization. But going back to your question – it’s the prerogative of the shareholders. My job is to create value and create market cap.
So you’re not aware of any plans for raising funds like in the case of TIL or an IPO?
Actually, right now there is no plan. All of us have an aspiration…My shareholders (BCCL) did an IPO for Radio Mirchi, so I’m sure when the time is right, they will look at TBSL too, whether for raising funds via Private Equity or an IPO. My job is to create shareholders wealth, and we’ve created a robust organization, capable of scaling. As of now, Vineet Jain and Sameer Jain are my VCs, my shareholders, and AP Parigi helps me out as a mentor and guide to our newly formed organisation.
More on what the company plans to do, in the extended text
What are your plans for TBSL?
The opportunities are manifold – I can scale TBSL up to global level, and take the company to any part of the world. I would like to see TBSL as a global organization, and the name – Times Business Solutions – is a global name. I was in Dubai recently for the opening of our Dubai office. We have done offline activities in Kuwait and Singapore. So in that sense, we’re also testing those markets.
Which other verticals are you targeting?
In terms of verticals, YoList.com is also a part of TBSL, and we’ll relaunch it now. There are at least 4 other things that we are doing, but it’s a little premature to talk about them. Come 15th of May, and we’ll tell you, once we’re fully ready with at least two.
How would you compare to your competitors across verticals?
I would claim that we are number one with TimesJobs, but as per a Business Today survey, we are close to Naukri. We’re behind in the matrimonial space, but we don’t want to be compared there because we are “Metro-monials” – we cater only to Metros and my positioning is such.
What are your plans for Mobile? Any Mobile-only services planned?
I can’t comment on any mobile-only services planned, but rest assured that we have mobile plans for all of our services. It is too hot a market to ignore.
Update: A Times Business Solutions representative reminds me about sometime I missed out in the interview: Sundar, in response to my question about how TBSL compares to its competitors across verticals, had also said that “MagicBricks.com is the Undisputed leader in the Property space.” The omission from the interview is deeply regretted.