Thursday, January 15, 2009

Intel Capital invests $23 mln



Wednesday, January 14, 2009
According to sources, more than half the $23M investment has gone to mobile VAS player One97 Communications.

Intel Capital, the corporate venture capital arm of chipmaker Intel, has invested a total of $23 million in three Indian companies. The investments are in One97 Communications (a Delhi-based mobile value added services company), online B2B marketplace IndiaMART.com and vocational training institute Global Talent Track. The investment in Global Talent Track is a co-investment with Helion Venture Partners.

Though individual investment amounts were not disclosed, sources say that more than half of the $23 million investment has gone to One97 Communications, followed by IndiaMART and Global Talent Track, in that order.

The investments have come from Intel Capital's $250 million India Technology Fund, founded in 2005. In July last year, Intel announced an investment of $17 million into three Indian companies - travel portal Yatra.com, events-oriented social networking portal BuzzInTown.com, and out-of-home advertising firm Emnet Samsara Media Pvt. Ltd.

For One97 Communications, this is second round of funding. The firm had been on the lookout for second round since early last year. In 2007, the firm had raised series A financing of about $8-10 million from SAIF Partners and Silicon Valley Bank. While Silicon Valley Bank has participated in the second round, SAIF Partners has not invested in the second round. One97 plans to use these funds to scale up its operations and increase sales and marketing in India and abroad.

Mobile VAS companies are expected to do well as India is opening its doors to 3G telecom services. There are quite a few funded players in this segment like OnMobile (got listed last year) and Cellebrum (part of BK Modi Group).

IndiaMART.com, with a presence in 100 cities, is an online B2B marketplace connecting Indian suppliers with domestic and global buyers. The company claims to about 15,000 paid company listings and half a million free listings. The company was founded in 1996, and this is the first institutional funding for the company. The company also has a private treaty deal with Bennett, Coleman & Company.

The funds will be used by IndiaMART to grow market share by launching marketing initiatives, expanding service offerings, extending reach into new markets and geographies, and evaluating potential strategic opportunities.

Global Talent Track (GTT), founded by Uma Ganesh (wife of Ganesh Natarajan of Zensar Technologies), aims to address the current gap in the demand and supply of trained manpower, providing a range of short and long term courses in a number of vocational fields. Education sector is becoming a favourite with private equity and venture capital investors given its non-cyclical nature. GTT plans to use the funds raised to start rolling out vocational education services in India and abroad. Helion Venture Partners has joined Intel Capital in this first round of investment in GTT.