Close on the heels of Google advertising is local SMS search in Bangalore, which is plastered across key locations in the city, Yahoo! has made a strategic investment in Call Ezee, which facilitates voice-based local search. Chennai-based Info Network Management Company Pvt Ltd (INMAC) received a strategic investment from Yahoo! for its consumer brand, Call Ezee. With this investment, Yahoo!’s Dutch subsidiary acquired approximately 30 per cent stake in INMAC, along with representation on INMAC’s Board. Incidentally, this happens to be Yahoo’s third strategic investment besides those in BharatMatrimony.com and Tyroo.
With the huge potential lying in the untapped local search market, including both print and voice, and an estimated size of nearly Rs 1,200 crore in the next 36 months, the potential is immense. The penetration of this is only 0.2 per cent at present, and even if in the next 24 months there is 2 per cent growth, it would be equivalent to 100 per cent growth.
Keith Nilsson, SVP and Head, Emerging Markets, Yahoo! Inc., said, “We are happy to be a strategic investor in INMAC as the Call Ezee business seeks to establish itself as a national player in the voice-based local search space. The Indian local search market is seeing significant changes, as more and more consumers are using mobile phones to search for and find local businesses. This investment also re-affirms our commitment to the Indian market.”
TS Narayanaswamy, Founder and CEO, INMAC, said, “We are proud that Yahoo!, a leader in the online media, technology and advertising space, has invested in our business. We believe the funds provided by Yahoo!’s investment will help us scale up our business. The funding raised will be used to increase coverage of Call Ezee, make technology improvements as well as build a world-class team. We aim to gain market share by reaching out to untapped markets and advertisers in India. The investment by Yahoo! is also an indicator of the confidence they have reposed in the INMAC team and our vision.”
Call Ezee was launched in 2006 and aims at delivering local search to its consumers via phone. Its revenue model is based on listing the SMEs and getting an annual fee from them, which is a cost effective way to bring together SMEs and consumers. The company plans to be in 40-50 cities by the year end.
Call Ezee’s service currently covers 14 cites across India, including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Kolkata. Consumers can call the local Call Ezee number from any mobile or fixed line phone and request contact details of any business, or a list of businesses that offer the product or service they are looking for. It is working towards generating a single number solution, which can be used throughout the country.