I write a blog about Indian web 2.0 space (whatever exists of it!) and its reader base is somewhat different from the Venturewoods community; I am cross posting this so as to get reactions from the audience here.

images.jpgI had been internally debating whether or not this post made any sense. What precipitated my decision in the affirmative was this piece of news that I read on ContentSutra. As things stand today, I can sense a general environment of conjecture about Indian Web2.0 amongst its thought leaders. There is a continuum of opinions, with people’s reactions ranging from cautious disbelief to speculative anticipation. Different people (or organizations) seem to be taking divergent positions and while everybody has a right to a course of action that best serves their own interests, I wonder what this collectively means to the Indian Web 2.0 entrepreneurs themselves. For there is a not insignficant number of people who have Web2.0 as their ‘occupational karmabhoomi’. Many of them are betting their lives & careers on Web2.0 and/or committing significant resources to carve out their livelihood in this space. Hence this issue needs much closer introspection, at least for the sake of that specific group.

Let me piece together a bunch of recent news item, or some of my own observations to give you a sense of what I am driving at. (My apologies if this looks a little sensational, but I need to do it thus, to get my point across)

Avnish Bajaj Says Social Networking Is “A Waste Of Time” In India – Avnish Bajaj, given his experience, surely knows quite a bit about the Indian internet industry; so when he voiced his concerns, you have to accord credence to his views. He did clarify later that he was referring to pure SNS sites. In fact its not just online social networking, he has earlier expressed general skepticism about Indian Web 2.0, probably because of the low internet penetration figures and immature state of the industry.

Sequoia Capital invests 7 million in Minglebox – Sequoia is a big name in venture funding of internet startups. They have internationally backed some of the biggest names in this business, so when their Indian arm invests a sizable sum in a SNS startup, that hasn’t really set the roads on fire (as yet) and is just one in an increasingly crowded space, you have to notice it. Personally I think this decision makes sense for them, for as an investor you have finite choices and if they have to bet on somebody in the Indian SNS space, their choice is better than many of the others. But my main point here is that they are certainly not as skeptic as Avnish about Indian Web2.0.

Canaan Partner says Web 2.0 not high on its priority list– Canaan said that while they are looking at the software & internet space, they are not hugely kicked about Web2.0; they are more aligned towards transaction based models. Canaan with Alok at the helm of its affairs, surely knows a thing or two about the Indian internet space.

Media/Entertainment industry hots up to internet (incl Web2.0)
– One recent trend worth noticing is that the big Indian media companies (having huge reach through their TV channels)– Times, NDTV, CNN IBN, Reliance Entertainment are getting their internet act together. They obviously think that the internet is the next big medium after the television. In fact, its not just Indian media companies but foreign ones as well. Take the case of MIH India, which has been promoted by a South African media house, Naspers. MIH is committing serious advertising money to their products and surely they are betting big on this space. I must add that the media companies are eyeing the internet space in general, but it’s safe to assume that they are partly influenced by the buzz around ‘web2.0’.

No dearth of VC money for internet space – You would agree that there is more venture capital money available for the Indian internet space that what the market can absorb. (in fact in India, that’s probably true not just for venture capital but for big ticket private equity as well); and the blame for this clearly lies with us- the startup guys, the entrepreneurs themselves, for not creating enough compelling products & services that can be considered ‘investment grade’ by owners of the capital.

My question is – for young, inexperienced first time Indian web 2.0 entrepreneurs, who are mostly bootstrapping or meagerly angel funded, and who dream of making it big on the Indian internet scene, what should they make of this?

Amit Ranjan

Amit Ranjan is the co-founder & COO of Slideshare. He heads the Delhi office of Uzanto, the company that built it.

Amit keenly follows emerging trends in the consumer internet space in India and writes a blog called Webyantra about the Indian Web 2.0 space (whatever exists of it!). He is actively involved in organizing tech events like BarCamps, Mobile Mondays & Proto. He also publishes ocassional podcastsfor Podtech's India channel.

In a previous professional avatar, Amit was into product marketing & research, having worked with PepsiCo, Asian Paints & Godrej in that role.
He holds an MBA from the Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Univ of Delhi and a Mechanical Engineering degree from REC/NIT Jaipur .