Businesses around the world are finding themselves standing at an interesting threshold right now. Digitization is an obvious reality that all businesses, big and small, are facing. ‘Focus on digital or die’ is pretty much the mantra for every business today. Building Data Driven Businesses is another trend that that every company is re-modelling itself to follow. Asia is emerging as the new land of opportunity. In such interesting times when companies are trying to reinvent themselves, Raju Narisetti, Senior Vice-President of Strategy at News Corp, is charting out the course of action at News Corp to maintain the company’s leadership position . In this exclusive interview with Techstory, Mr.Narisetti speaks about some of the important initiatives at News Corp.
News Corp is a global network of leading companies in Media, News, Education, Information Services segments among others. Traditionally known for its publishing business, News Corp owns some of the leading publications around the globe such as The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, The Sun, The Daily Telegraphy, GQ, Vogue and many more. (See complete list here). In the last few years, News Corp has diversified into a number of other sectors. Cable Network Programming, Digital Real Estate, Digital Education remain some of the major segments that the company operates in other than News and Information Services and Book Publishing. The company today is focusing all its efforts towards building a foundation for digital growth. Below are some of the major points discussed during the interview with Mr. Narisetti.
Print To Stay But The Future Looks Digital
The future of print publishing is being discussed for a long time now with more and more experts expressing concerns about the future of print publishing industry in the news and information domain. “There is a lot of user migration happening from traditional print media to digital media. But it does not mean anything unhealthy for the print industry. Print media is here to stay for a long time,” assures Mr.Narisetti. “The Wall Street Journal remains the largest newspaper in the USA today and all our publications across the world enjoy a very healthy subscription in the print format as well. It only goes to show that people believe in sticking to information sources that provide them with high value content and a good experience,” he adds.
On 18th June 2015, The Wall Street Journal reported that they were carrying our a major reorganization effort which will involve shifting of a large number of resources towards digital media efforts. In a memo to his staff , Gerard Baker, editor in chief of Dow Jones and The Wall Street Journal, said the purpose of the moves was a “full transformation of our newsroom with a bold but simple aim: to become the premier digital news organization in the world.” – The Wall Street Journal reported.
News Corp today is surely focusing a lot of efforts on the digital media front. “More and more people are living their lives online and on mobiles. Our print business is going extremely steady but we are seeing more and more growth coming from our online business. Consumption of information through mobiles is increasing steadying and we believe that as time goes by, mobile will become a very important part of any media company’s strategy. Three years ago 20% of our digital consumption was happening through mobile devices. Today more than 50% of our digital consumption is coming from mobiles and we see the trend only continuing,” said Mr Narisetti while commenting on the company’s focus on digital channels.
Also in times when so much information is available digitally and for free, what according to Mr.Narisetti is the future of paid subscription models being offered today ? “All our subscription based businesses are doing well with more and more people subscribing to our content each day. Also there are so many newer companies in coming up in the information field and are being able to monetize their content. The fact that content can be monetized has been proven over and over again and this will always remain the case. People will always be ready to pay for good content and for a good experience. The onus is on us to keep creating consistent, compelling and unique content,” he said.
Digital Real Estate A Big Focus
Another major focus for the company on a global level is Digital Real Estate. The number of acquisitions and jump in revenues from digital real estate services speak about the focus of the company in this segment.For the quarter ending March 31st 2015, revenues from Digital Real Estate Services segment saw 67% jump from the same quarter last year.
In September 2014, the company acquired acquired Move, Inc. , which operates realtor.com. Move displays more than 98% of all for-sale properties listed in the US through realtor.com and the company’s mobile applications. News Corp also owns 61.6 % of Melbourne-based REA Group Ltd which operates realestate.com.au, the largest player in Australia.
In November 2014, News Corp paid $30 million for a 25% stake in India based Elara, the startup that runs real estate portal PropTiger.com. In April 2015, PropTiger acquired rival Makaan.com for an undisclosed amount. “The combination of PropTiger and Makaan will create an end to end experience for the Indian home buyers, something that has been our goal and a part of our philosophy since inception,” Mr.Dhruv Agarwala – Co-Founder and CEO of PropTiger told Techstory. Till today, PropTiger has sold home worth $1.2 billion in the Indian market. The acquisition of PropTiger and Makaan only show News Corp’s commitment to create a dominance in the Indian digital real estate space.
The Indian digital real estate market is booming right now with a number of global players making investments in this segment. How does News Corp see this market growing in the future ? “We expect the Indian digital real estate market to consolidate with 2 to 3 companies emerging as the top players in this space,” Mr Narisetti said.
News Corp’s India Strategy
In November 2014, News Corp made its first acquisition in India with PropTiger.com. In December 2014, News Corp acquired Big Decisions, a financial education and analytics site, for an undisclosed sum. In March 2015, News Corp announced its acquisition of media firm VCCircle Network. Having made 3 acquisitions in 4 months, India surely is a big part of News Corp’s digital growth plan.
“India is a fast growing digital ecosystem. More and more people in India are beginning to live more of their lives digitally.India therefore is and will remain a large part of News Corp’s strategy for a long time to come. India is also at a very interesting confluence of digital, economic and political stability – something that makes this market extremely interesting for us to enter at this point of time.” said Mr.Narisetti.
About the various acquisitions made by News Corp in India, Mr. Narisetti said “The acquisitions that we have made in India are very much in line with our global strategy. Globally also, we are very strong on real estate, digital media and data driven information businesses .A large number of people in India are going to start and complete their real estate buying journey online. The acquisition PropTiger seemed perfect at this time in the Indian market. Similarly the acquisition of VCCircle is a natural fit with our global strategy. We are focusing on growing our digital content segment globally. At the same time the funding and startup ecosystem in India is booming and the acquisition of VCCircle Network seems perfect at this point of time for our entry in this segment in the Indian market. What attracted us about VCCircle is their strong focus on data and their revenue model based on multiple sources of revenues. VCCircle is our big opportunity to help the company scale and become bigger by bringing our strong experience and subscription base to them,” Mr Narisetti said.
So what is it exactly about these 3 Indian companies that caught News Corps’s eye ? “We are looking at the Indian market from a long term perspective. The acquisitions that we have made are relatively small and we are looking at growing theses businesses in the next 10 to 20 years. If someone just wants to raise money then we are probably not the best fit for such companies. We are looking at entrepreneurs who want to build a long term, scalable business with a strong business model. Other than that all three businesses are strongly data driven, something that is a big part of our strategy going forward, ” Mr. Narisetti said.
So any other acquisitions in India on the cards ? “India is at a very interesting juncture right now and we do see a lot of opportunity here. That is all I would like to say.” Mr.Narisetti ends the interview with an interesting note that keeps us guessing !
(Original Image Credits : journalismfestival.com)