(Updated with comments from Raju Narisetti and PV Sahad)
Rupert Murdoch-owned News Corp said it was acquiring VCCircle Network, a set of online portals focussing on investments and deals in the venture capital industry in India. In a separate deal, Star said it was buying 'Screen', the film magazine.
NewsCorp will buy all the properties, including VCCircle.com, Techcircle.in, VCCEdge, VCCircle Training, in addition to a conference business. The deal is expected to close in March. "It is an outright sale," said PV Sahad, founder and CEO, VCCircle, in a phone interview with HuffPost. Employees who hold stock options will also benefit from the sale. The terms of the deal were not disclosed, but news reports said it is in the range of Rs 120-150 crore.
VCCircle is also the brand name for its news website that reports on deals in the venture capital and startup communities. For NewsCorp, the main reason to buy was its other businesses.
"News is not the main focus of VC Circle. Data subscriptions, events and training are the core revenue lines supplemented by content. In that sense VCC creates adjacencies to our existing businesses," said Raju Narisetti, Senior Vice President, Strategy, News Corp. He said that the acquisition will help growth through "new verticals, deeper breadth and depth in existing businesses."
Noida-based VCCircle was founded in 2009 by Sahad, who built it into a 100-employee operation with offices in multiple cities in India. “For the past decade, we have built a strong franchise with proprietary data, information, content, and networking capabilities around India’s digital business world,” said P.V. Sahad, Founder and CEO of VCCircle Network. “Being a part of News Corp will now allow us to accelerate our already aggressive growth plans.”
VCCircle's holding company is Mosaic Media Ventures. The company makes most of its revenue from events such as conferences and training workshops. For the year ended 31st March 2014, the company reported a loss after tax of around Rs 94.91 lakhs, higher than the Rs 51.36 lakhs-loss in FY13. The company reported current assets of about Rs 3.1 crore for FY14.
Sahad and the management team will become part of NewsCorp's India operations. Sahad will report to Narisetti, and will continue to run the business. "VCCircle will remain a standalone brand and entity. We will take advantage of synergies where relevant but expect to expand VCC team," Narisetti said. Narisetti was the founding editor of Mint, a business daily in India.
This is NewsCorp's third deal in India in the last six months. In November, News Corp acquired a 25 per cent stake in PropTiger.com, a online residential real estate platform, for $30 million. In December, News Corp acquired BigDecisions.com, a financial education website.
News Corp also owns Dow Jones, Wall Street Journal and HarperCollins Publishers businesses, all of which have operations in India.
Murdoch is also present here through Star, the network of media and entertainment channels owned by 21st Century Fox, which was spun off from NewsCorp as a separate, publicly traded entity in June 2013. Star announced yesterday that they had bought 'Screen', a 64-year old magazine about movies, for an undisclosed sum from the Indian Express group. Screen will cease its print editions, and will become an online portal with more multimedia content. Star's media and entertainment channels reach about 700 million Indian viewers every month, and this acquisition will broaden its presence in that space.