I’ve noticed Alibaba.com advertisements on the Economic Times website over the past week, and sensed that something was up. This explains it: the China-based b2b classifieds portal has announced a tie with Infomedia India. This is, as per the release, a “multi-year” strategic relationship, and extends beyond the Internet into the print domain, where Infomedia has special interest publications.
David Wei, CEO of Alibaba.com has said that India is a top priority for the companys global plans, and Infomedia will help provide on-ground support including sales, marketing and customer service. Some numbers: Around 20,000 Indian companies have signed up each month for their India channel since Jan 2008, and Alibaba.com has more than 400,000 members in India, and they hope to double that number. Alibaba has, reportedly, 27 million members from over 200 countries. They’re targeting a market of over 8 million SMEs. In India, Alibaba will compete with the likes of TradeIndia.com and Indiamart.com, both B2B marketplaces.
But here’s the strange thing: I’m listed on Indiamart! On Oct 18 2007, I received a mail from them informing me that I’ve automatically been registered. No permission sought, they just created an account, added my details including my mobile number, and just sent across a username and password. Randomly, they’ve added ContentNext (contentSutra’s parent company) in two categories: “Studios, Film Production & Multimedia Production Services” and “Advertising Agencies, Consultants & Designers”. Other mails and reminders were received 2nd Nov, Jan 16th and more recently on April 15th. Thankfully, they’ve only cold-called once – on the 25th of Feb. None of this changes the fact that I shouldn’t have been automatically added, without my permission being sought.
Update: I met Dinesh Agarwal, Founder and MD of Indiamart yesterday. He said that they’re following the standard Yellow Pages model of data collection, wherein business owners are listed in a directory. Indiamart gives users the option of deleting/modifying their details in the directory (I was given that option), while in case of a print listing, you’re stuck there for the whole year. The rules, it appears, are different for personal sites – and I was looking at this listing from a personal perspective – and different for a business site.