Urban Eye Founder Rishi Khiani Joins Times Internet As CEO

Rishi Khiani has joined Times Internet Ltd as CEO, becoming, at 34, one of the youngest CEOs at a major Internet company in India. Khiani, who today joined the Times Group’s flagship Internet company, had recently left Web18 as COO. He had joined Web18, the Internet arm of the Network18 Group, when it acquired Urban Eye Media, a design and development company he founded. The Urban Eye acquisition is credited with giving Web18 properties a design and user experience edge, a feat that TIL would perhaps be glad to see replicated across its sites.

Khiani will report to Bennett, Coleman managing director Vineet Jain, TIL said in a statement.

While Khiani has earned his stripes as a maverick user experience designer, he will also face very different challenges at TIL. Perceived to be a large and unwieldy organization that sometimes trades focus for diversification, Khiani could spend much time navigating protocol and bureaucracy at his new company. We are predicting significant restructuring in product lines and personnel–sources familiar with the thinking within BCCL say that the one decision that has come out of the travails of the economic downturn is that the group wants a leaner, fitter TIL. And perhaps one with tighter strategic focus.

In some sense, TIL has coopted the enemy. Khiani was the principal architect of In.com, the Web18 portal that has steadily gained marketshare within a year of launch and already gets more traffic than Indiatimes.com as per some audience measuring agencies.

While Khiani will likely face some cultural resistance owing to being younger than many senior managers who will report to him, one factor that will likely help him is the active interest being taken in TIL by a representative of the Jain family. Satyan Gajwani, fiancé of BCCL vice chairman Sameer Jain