In the past few months, Times Internet is a name that keeps popping up in my news feeds for announcing something exciting. Part of India's largest media house, they are the new school in Times Groups' old school. Two weeks ago, Times Internet announced a partnership with Gawker Media to bring Gizmodo and Lifehacker to India. It was a surprising announcement and an intriguing partnership. The press statement talked about the infamous iPhone 4 scoop by Gizmodo that led to their editor's house being raided by the cops. Nick Denton's Gawker is a controversial media house, and Times Internet deciding to join forces is newsworthy in itself.
Last week, Times Internet launched mobile apps for its music-streaming service simply titled Gaana (Hindi for song). Leading to the apps launch, I spoke with Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani. Our conversation started with my simple question about what is happening at Times Internet, given all the new developments. Satyan's answer was summed up in three points, outlined below.
1. Company focus
"Instead of being a content company that uses tech, be a tech company that uses content."
The Times Group is a media and content company. Like most content companies, it can either pursue simple ways of wrapping the same content differently for devices or actually work on developing specific applications that tailor experiences for devices and type of content.
Satyan plans to achieve the latter by offering unique experiences for the wide variety of content. Gaana, BoxTV, and the several Times Internet web properties are examples of this focus.
2. Company structure
"Our competition is in a garage."
A media conglomerate is a media conglomerate. The mid-level management and hurdles of bureaucracy affect every large organization. Satyan realizes this. He believes his competition is an agile startup run by a few passionate people not restricted by a formal corporate structure. With this in mind, Satyan is turning Times Internet into a company that's a group of small startups working on their own projects.
The idea of inculcating the startup structure within Times Internet across its properties explains another philosophy that Satyan believes in for Times Internet at this stage. When I was arranging this conversation, I was sent a slide deck with all the properties under Times Internet. I had two quick observations as I went through the product list:
"Synergy is overrated; let businesses stand on their own."
There are just too many properties
There is no umbrella branding other than the group responsible for them.
I asked Satyan if he is planning any single destination to get access to all these web services offered by Times Internet, and he said that IndiaTimes.com is the place for now, and that synergy is overrated and he'd rather see his products spinning into their own business units. Satyan's vision of breaking Times Internet into smaller startups working on their product and not held back due to relying on another product team does help him achieve his larger goal.
When you are huge company that has investments across the board in your industry, you tend to try reinventing the wheel yourself rather than reaching out and forming an alliance. According to Satyan, this is the third change he plans to bring. Times Internet's partnership with Gawker Media and timesPoynt are examples of this. In addition to these, Times Internet has investments in around five to 10 companies.