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This Early Entrant Among Indian Internet Companies Knows What Works in India & How Info Edge has the first mover advantage via its most popular online recruitment vertical Naukri.com.

By Aashika Jain

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Entrepreneur India

Started at a time back in 2000 when Google was a small startup and there were a couple of million people on the internet, the publicly-listed Info Edge started as a pure internet company.

A dotcom boom in the US led to VCs looking for companies to invest in and as luck would have it, we had a couple of VCs chasing us says CEO & Managing Director Hitesh Oberoi, who is also a co-promoter of the company.

"Around April-May 2000, we took money from ICICI Ventures. They invested about INR 7 crore. We raised money, and what they told us is the money will come in tranches. So the money was promised in three tranches."

Many internet companies those that had raised money at that time, spent the money without building a great business model. Over time they went bust. After the bust, there was no money available to be raised for many years. Info Edge, which was founded by Sanjeev Bikhchandani, had raised money but not spent it.

Over time, Info Edge's revenue started growing. From 30 lakh a year, it went to INR 1 crore per year; then to INR 3 crore next year. In the third year, it broke even with INR 3 crore in the back and since then it has been profitable.

"The only money we raised to get to profit was INR 7 crore initially. From INR 9 crore we went to INR 19 crore, from 19 crore to 47 crore, 47 crore to 55 crore, and then in 2006, we actually went public."

Listed on the Indian stock exchange for the last ten years, Info Edge is now a INR 800-crore company.

Diversified into four business portfolios, Info Edge is most popularly known for its recruitment division Naukri.com, which makes 75 per cent of the company's total revenue. Its other verticals include matrimony via Jeevansathi.com, real estate via 99acres.com and education via Shiksha.com.

Info Edge has also made investments in early stage companies and start-up ventures including Zomato (www.zomato.com), Applect Learning Systems Private Limited (www.meritnation.com), Etechaces Marketing and Consulting Private Limited (www.policybazaar.com); Kinobeo Software Private Limited (www.mydala.com) among a few.

Naukri Vs LinkedIn

The fact that we are doing INR 500-600 crores of revenue, the fact that we have grown over the last few years to a market where in the job portals market, Naukri.com has 78 percent. We must be doing something right says Oberoi.

Oberoi believes a Naukri.com and a LinkedIn.com can easily co-exist, but tomorrow paths may across.

"Do we see LinkedIn as competition, yes we do. Why do we see LinkedIn as competition - today, LinkedIn is used to hire passive job seekers, to hire high-end job seekers but tomorrow can they be competition, yes."

The biggest advantage of LinkedIn when it started is that it was not a jobs site. So it was able to get people of all types to register. They could safely claim they were not looking for jobs. Therefore, it became a platform for people who were not looking for jobs. But could tomorrow LinkedIn change its stance. If they start moving in that direction, they become competitors. Today we operate in very different segments.

However, Oberoi says Naukri.com is not a networking platform. We are a platform which connects people. We are a platform for people who are looking for jobs, for people who are looking to hire. If you define a problem as connecting job seekers and recruiters, I think Naukri.com works wonderfully.

He calls Naukri a no-frills platform. "You are looking for a job, you come to our platform. There are 350,000 jobs from over 60,000 companies. You can register in our database and reach out to companies immediately. It is the easiest and fastest to get a job in India right now."

Is it the best way to hire someone who is not looking for a job? No, it isn't because if you are not looking for a job, you are not on Naukri. So if you want to hire someone who is not looking, who has been in the company for 10 years, is very happy, you have to headhunt. So a profile like this will be available on LinkedIn but you have to headhunt.

For most jobs, companies don't look for headhunting. They want people who would apply to them, they want people who would be interested in them and they hire from that pool. Or they want to reach out to people who are looking for a change. In the junior to mid-hiring segment where 95 per cent of all hiring takes place, Naukri is the cheapest, fastest and the easiest way to hire candidates says Oberoi.

This is an advantage of Naukri which is not going away anytime soon. And this serves both recruiters and candidates well.

Jeevansaathi Vs Dating Sites like Tinder

Jeevansaathi is growing at 28 per cent and has 15 per cent of the matrimony sites' market share.

Oberoi explains what he believes works for India.

"We should understand what India is. India is a country of 1.2 billion people. 70 per cent of these people stay in rural areas. 20 per cent stay in 200-300 cities. There are so many people & communities in India today that don't even use matrimonial sites to get married. In India, marriages still happen through friends and family or through pundits or references. And what dating sites are capturing is not even 1 per cent of India."

So, yes it is possible more and more Indians would find their partners on dating sites. But there are even more Indians who once they get separated from their community for immigration will use sites like Jeevansaathi to get married. Dating is still taboo in many segments of the population. Even today NRIs use matrimonial sites to get married.

The thing about matrimonial site is that there you are declaring your intent. I am here to get married. So you may date for a few months but the ultimate objective is to get married. So the crowd that we see on our matrimonial site is more people above the age of 25. Whereas dating sites tend to have fairly younger crowd.

On dating sites you don't declare your intent to get married. You say you are here to date. You may end up marrying or not is different. The use case is different says Oberoi.

Aashika Jain

Entrepreneur Staff

Former Associate Editor, Entrepreneur India

Journalist in the making since 2006! My fastest fingers have worked for India's business news channel CNBC-TV18, global news wire Thomson Reuters, the digital arm of India’s biggest newspaper The Economic Times and Entrepreneur India as the Digital Head. 
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