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Ashish Kashyap

CEO | 01 Feb 2008

The core proposition of ibibo.com, as we define it, is that it ‘a local social utility that enables you to discover new people’. There are numerous local social utilities available on ibibo that drive creation, collaboration and hence, discovery of new people. ibibo.com has been able to craft these social utilities into the social graph, thereby giving the applications viral power.

Ashish Kashyap, CEO of ibibo.com Web (p) Ltd (a subsidiary of Naspers, South Africa) has over 12 years of experience spanning Internet, television and radio businesses. During his career, he has created many innovative consumer applications in the internet space, and set up successful businesses from scratch.

Prior to starting up ibibo.com in India, Kashyap was Country Head, India, Sales & Operations of Google India, where he built its domestic business operations from ground up. In record time, Ashish drove Google’s India operations to become one of the company’s fastest growing businesses in the Asia Pacific region. Ashish directed localization of search and advertising products, helping the company garner thousands of advertisers and Adsense partners in quick time.

Before joining Google India, Kashyap was General Manager, E-Commerce at Indiatimes.com, where he built and architected a host of innovative, paradigm shifting applications for the portal. Airline ticket auction was his brain child, as was the phenomenal reverse auction (“Tell Your Price”).

Prior to joining Indiatimes.com, Kashyap had worked at MTV India and The Times of India Group’s radio venture. He is passionate about social media, knowledge creation via user-generated content, local search, SEM and auctions. Especially for a market like India, he strongly believes in the power of the ‘long tail’! Pallavi Goorha of exchange4media met up with him to discuss the plans and way ahead for ibibo.com. Excerpts:

Q. Tell us something about your company ibibo.com in India, and the products Onefamily.com, Dwaar.com.

ibibo Web (P) Ltd runs a suite of Internet properties for India with a significant focus on online social media and local search. Our growth brands are the social media products, ibibo.com and onefamily.com, besides the picture book-marking service, pixrat.com, and the local and vertical search properties, dwaar.com and bixee.com, the latter a job search application. ibibo’s mission is to “to empower Indians to create, share and discover people and information”. ibibo Web (P) Ltd is backed by Naspers of South Africa, a large media conglomerate with investments in television, print and internet businesses across Africa, Europe, China and various other Asia Pacific countries.

The core proposition of ibibo.com, as we define it, is as “a local social utility that enables you to discover new people”. There are numerous local social utilities available on ibibo that drive creation, collaboration and hence, discovery of new people. ibibo.com has been able to craft these social utilities into the social graph, thereby giving the applications viral power.

OneFamily is the first initiative of its kind in India to enable the extended family and family friends (spread across the world) to connect and collaboratively manage their family network. One of its key applications enables members of a family to collaborate in creating their extended family tree. OneFamily was soft launched at the end of October, 2007 and integrates with “ibibo Single Sign On”.

dwaar.com is yet another first, in the area of local and vertical search. It is a single collection of verticals that enables users to find and make comparisons across various categories. The aggregation of a diverse set of verticals enables a user to compare in a structured format. Currently there are: ‘vertical comparison search available’ for “jobs”; “Yellow Pages”; “Downloads”; “user reviews”; “News”; “Entertainment”; and web search with concept short cuts. dwaar.com uses its proprietary crawling technology to extract and showcase organic data in a structured manner, vertically. Besides this, Dwaar has constructed alliances with many players and content providers across various categories, such as movie houses, music labels and varied feed providers (cricket, stock, weather, movie tickets, etc.).

Q. What is the future of blogging in India?

Blogging and user generated content is redefining internet and media in India, and the impact of this version of web is going to be more so in a nation like ours! In fact, our brand’s screaming line: “I Build I Bond” – is all about empowering the user.

Even though we are a highly democratic society, a lot people in India have a huge need to express themselves and be heard. Also, people have a huge pent up emotional need to create connections and a social structure, which may not exist in the offline world! In India it is this need that blogging is clearly fulfilling and as the penetration of internet increases, the empowered user is all set to redefine media consumption! This is sure to change with growing awareness, growth of a strong net-etiquette and social networking paradigms. In India more than 90 per cent of bloggers are quite young – late twenties or early thirties – and the count is increasing day by day. Corporate blogging has started now but not on a serious note. Techno-savvy guys are more into the blogging. While growing in popularity in India, the blogging community is still nascent with only one-seventh of Net-users actively blogging.

Q. How many registered users do ibibo.com?

All our statistics are shared transparently on our home page, www.ibibo.com: as on January 16th, our registered users count stands at 1,031,628. ibibo.com’s unique visitor rank for the period ending November 2007 was No 16, as per Comscore; and conversational media site (Social Networking) rank was No. 3.

Q. How is ibibo on mobile doing? What all could be done with the mobile feature?

Mobile is an extremely important and integral part of our strategy. Following are some the key aspects of our mobile strategy. ibibo mobile photo sharing and mobile blogging are available on the Vodafone deck. We are soon announcing more partnerships. Ever since our alliance with Vodafone, our traffic for this service has gone up 10 times. We plan to put more ibibo mobile-based internet services on to the operator’s deck. All ibibo properties have been tightly integrated with SMS functionality. Which means users can receive messages, comments and friendship requests on their mobiles. Users can upload blogs and photos from their mobile phones. The third, key initiative for us in the mobile space, as a corporate entity, has been to invest in ACL Wireless Ltd, which further sharpens our focus in developing mobile applications and value added services.

Q. Ibibo has launched a mobile service for their users where users on ibibo can speak to each other over their cell phones absolutely free. What is this service all about? Please elaborate?

ibibo has launched a first-of-its-kind feature in “Call Me”, which enables the user to call a friend on his mobile without sharing numbers (if both are registered users), and with absolutely no cost anywhere across India. The users get connected through the internal network of ibibo, and it’s secure.

Q. Ibibo has recently launched a social networking service called café ibibo. Tell us something more about it.

The ibibo social networking “café” enables a user to make new friends by creating his own personalized space and with advanced privacy features

Q. Who are your competing sites?

Our competitors are everyone in the consumer internet space.

Q. In your Sawaal feature on ibibo.com, how are you different from ammas.com or NDTV Convergence Ask.com?

The ibibo Sawaal feature integrates tightly with a user’s social network. Which means when a user asks a question, all his friends can answer the question and further, friends of friends also have the option of answering the question. By bringing this application inside the social graph, it creates a strong context amongst users and a reason for people asking and answering to also become friends. The Sawaal application has some more core differentiators, such as local Sawaal – Questions and Answers about things in a city and neighborhood. The whole philosophy and delivery of ibibo and ibibo sawaal is completely different from other web sites.

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