Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When will we see a global Indian Internet consumer brand?

Yahoo India, MSN India, eBay India, Google India, Monster India – these are some of the most popular digital consumer brands in India – what do they have in common ?
Answer: None of them are Indian brands!

Not that there are no home-grown desi digital brands –,,, , Bharat, and among others have carved a space for themselves in the Indian consumers' mind. However, there is no Indian Internet brand which has either gone global or shaken the Internet world by sheer innovation.

Why is that despite having a talent pool of good technology & business professionals and despite VC/PE money chasing Indian Internet business ideas we do not have even ONE global internet brand! More so, when the playing field is really level in the digital world – after all isn't that what internet is all about?

Forget about creating a global brand, where is India's answer to China's Alibaba or Sohu, which can get a Google or Yahoo to sit up and take notice.

Why is it that in Web 2.0 there is no Indian company doing anything exciting? Why can't we create a or a Simple concepts but which have become a rage.

We as Indian businesses need to really think large and place some big bets to address global markets. Our businesses need to plan more investments in Technolgy (R & D / engineering) for us to be able to complete with global Internet brands. Why Internet, even our software industry has not been able to turn around even a single global brand.

I hope in the next 4-5 years we should see some larger Indian Internet & software brands competing in the global markets with the global biggies!

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Shantanu Bhagwat said...

At least part of the answer lies in the relatively low base of internet users (or to be more precise, broadband users).
It is difficult to create an online/Web 2.0 look-alike business when most people are still reliant on internet cafes for accessing their mail.

Rahul Krishna said...


One must not forget that brands like Google and Monster operate in many countries and therefore these companies bring a lot of experience with them in terms of what may work or not work in emerging markets like India. Lets not ignore the financial muscle and their ability to take risks. This may not be possible for a start up funded by a VC.

Even in other sectors like consumer durables, FMCG etc. there have always been global companies doing better than Indian brands. Ultimately, there HAS to be a Bharti, MRF or a Maruti that will change the scenario.

Finally, is there a reason why you kept Indiatimes out of this discussion? I believe they have the potential to be a global internet brand.

Rakesh said...


Most of the global research firms including etc stated that web content plays the major role in framing a global brand.In India most of the B2C or B2B portals are focusing to build only Indian consumer related content ofcourse market is huge in India but we should take the example of Chinese portal ebay etc.In last 12-18 months companies like, focusing on international content and they r getting tremendous response also on the same infact they r getting premium prices from their International subscribers.

Bhushan said...

Hi Anurag,

Great post but things are beginning to change. I recently saw this blog called Webyantra ( is profiling some very good Indian web startups. I never knew these sites existed in India before I sw them on the blog.

Anonymous said...


This is partly because of people like you from FMCG and marketing degrees come in and want to play in the tech field, and make tech brands consumerist.Page and Brin are still techies, never gave a toss of whether they became a consumer brand or neither hired zillions of MBa and spent billions of Advretisng dollars.They just worked on getting their algorithms and response times right...and the rest is as they say ...voila..a consumer brand!

Let the tech guys remain dominant and if they crack it ,mktg will just become a accessory , not a substitute.The problem is most VC funded cos,(and even the large Corporates)etc believe the path to heaven is thru ad spend and fancy wharton MBA's and fancy salaries - not tech, and innovation using tech.They wont recognise a tech innovation even if it came dressed as santa Claus thru their chullah chimneys!

Moral of the stories: Leave us techies alone (to be sung to the tune of Pink Floyd's Brick in the Wall!).Go back to selling toothpastes or whatever.

Ashish said...

Anurag, good points but there is a reason for the Indian brands not focusing on the international market so far.

If you take the example of most of the popular web 2.0 services, they became popular because of the US market. These services were not just technical innovations (you yourself said that the concepts were simple) - vicinity to the market was also important. And if anybody wants to do something from India, it makes much more sense for them to target the Indian market because its easier to tap into the same. The reasons are:

1. The market is very immature and there is much less competition as compared to the US. That is why we saw Naukri, Jobsahead, MakemyTrip, etc.

2. Its easier to attack the market that is closer to you.

Having said all that, I think a lot of change is happening. But I still think that you will see more companies targeting Indian market coming from India (at least the successful ones) than companies targeting global market.

Arvind said...

A lot of startups are doing just that.
tekriti is doing just that. It is creating a culture like this.
So that everyone doing programming for other countries should be able to work on his ideas as well.

Nikhil Pahwa said...

Hi Anurag,

I'm going to do the unpopular thing and bring in a marketing angle...who made digg or popular? It wasn't the marketing muscle...two factors:

1. Unique and universal idea that involved users and gave them something that they could share or feel that they can own
2. A tipping point - critical mass of userbase of people talking about them was achieved that helped create a strong, consistent viral.

Two Indian sites come to mind immediately - Mouthshut and Teeza. Mouthshut had/has the opportunity for being truly global, but didn't explore the idea aggressively. I think it has now lapsed into being a mostly local consumer opinion site, and maybe that works for them. What they lack is a global viral that just hasn't begun or wasn't initiated because the community seems incestuous. I'm not aware of a similar online business that started around the same time, so if I'm wrong - let me know. I think they're a potential future acquisition for Google simply because of the kind of profiling information that they would have. Had they a global userbase, they would have been acquired, like, yesterday.

I'm tracking with some interest since its polls are easily usable, portable (to your blog/personal site), and - opinions. Great potential for profiling/contextual advertising, which is where the money is today. The portability (for the want of a better word) gives it great potential for a viral. Just hasn't reached a critical mass yet.

Hmm...there is possibly another element - an opinion leader which immense credibility who takes up the sites cause, and begins the viral. Snakes on a plane?


Anonymous said...


I see people giving examples of digg and delicious..etc as good business models for emulation.

I dont know what the savvy level is on this blog, but Digg is in danger of going bust as also GiGaOM if and when the web 2.0 cyclical kicks in (as it does with every business, you dont have to be Arthur Burns or Kondratieff to work that out)).Essentially, no ads means even regular print products are shut down nothwithstanding readership. These 2.0 (blog)advertisng models have to look for non ad revenues.Most ads carried on these are by startup dotcoms (side links,text ad links,sponsor links/banners,etc).If the small dotcoms get the delhi belly, the Digg, kinda market goes belly up- the INDUSTRY STANDARDS of the next e.economy correction!

Anonymous said...

Yup we guys should serve more of R&D rather than being sweat shops for the west.
and who do u think do the most of R&D in west, we the indians :) irony isnt it ??

Majid Khan said...

hi anurag...good post! Hows life in MTF?

Ashish said...

I think Zoho Projects might be getting there.

Shree said...


Two questions..

1. To sustain growth and development of indegenous websites, are we heading not to global partnerships of leading sites - like ?

2. Also, are we opposed to aquisisitions of Indian firms by foreign firms? Like how's huge potential has been sold out for some million dollars?

Two views...

1. I think, Rediff, Sify and Indiatimes are doing a great job in the past 12-18 months.

2. With time, I also feel that technology hasn't penetrated that much. The reason why I tell this is, till now, we are unfamiliar with RSS feeds - which I think, almost all the websites that I mentioned above offer. So, I feel that its the lack of awareness about some niche technologies that might be a problem and not the potential.

Your views...


Rohan Kudchadker said...

India has lot of potential for softwares , Even though the cost of sofware development is comparatively lower comparted to the western counterparts , there seems no creative development here , most of the softwares developed are mainly for software export

The Successful companies are either taken over by other companies just like bidorbuyindia by bazee and subsequently ebay

As the ad rates recover due to recovery there might be more smaller websites on new business models which earn either on CPC CPM CPL models as hosting in India is very cheaper than hosting outside.

Another Problem in India i think is funding , It is very difficult to get VC Funding compared to other countries.

Anonymous said...

nikhil makes an interesting point that often the community is incestous. indian online community is still in the early adopter stage. his comment about being acquired big time is quite relevant to the arguments raised in this post. to a great extent can become global if they ride on the wave of yahoo or google but we'll have to see if they sell or not because i spoke to someone who's friend works for mouthshut and the word is mouthshut is not for sale.
another site i am tracking besides is they have the potentiol to be integrated with google earth or yahoo maps

Arun said...

See which works like digg.

Anonymous said...

Nikhil et al,
Mouthshut is a copy of So, there is no question of them "ruling the world". It is meant to be an for India.

ajay said...

Nice post Anurag,

However, as an entrepreneur of Indian origin, I think its probably because:

A. Indian culture - the net one - is more similar than dissimilar than the American one. 'Information Goods' - are consumed - more or less - the same way - in India as they are in the USA.

B. Yes, there are differences, although, they are mostly related to payment options et all.

C: The "phoreign factor' - Sad. But true. NIH - :-) works :) in India