Archive for the ‘Internet’ Category

Relationship Commerce: Are Indian Internet users ready to play the dating game?

Friday, February 18th, 2011

Last week, I was reading the New York Mag article titled, “Geek Kings of smut” and was wondering about the relationship commerce industry of India. The New York Mag article was on how geeks monetize porn, but my thought was more on the very basic relationship commerce viz. dating. Then I saw Facebook ads on dating and singles targeted towards Indian users. A lot of them.

Dating ads

Dating Ads in Facebook targeted to Indians

Globally, dating is a 10 year old industry. People in the United States spent close to $1.2 billion last year on dating sites alone. Though, this number is small change compared to the overall online commerce which is more than $100 billion, but is growing faster than the overall e-commerce segment.

eHarmony, which is a cross of + BharatMatrimony + traditional Indian point-based matching of partners, has close to 33m profiles and clocked close to $250m last year. eHarmony and control 50% market for dating in the US.

In US/Europe, the industry is rapidly evolving with upstarts like Zoosk, which is playing on top of facebook. Zoosk did well in 2010 with a rumoured $80m in revenues with 40m members. A quick search revealed that Zoosk has active members in India, but I suspect these are nothing more than front of the traditional escort services.

In India, ‘Relationship Commerce’ has been about helping people find a soul-mate aka matrimony and then monetizing based on subscriptions from parents of the bride & groom. This is how the newspaper matrimonial classifieds worked and their internet counterparts are exactly the online version of the old model. This sector in India has been dominated by Bharatmatrimony (with it’s 50+ individual niche portals), Simplymarry,,, etc. The newspapers and traditional media sites have started offering similar services.

The big question is, “Are Indian Internet users ready to play the dating game?” This comes right before matrimony.

I think the big game of dating in India would be on mobile and not on the internet. There are too many singles around toting their smartphones. Good food for thought for us and yeah, wishing you a (belated) Happy Valentine’s Day!

Are you a journalist / writer with a passion for politics? Do you care about this country?

Sunday, October 24th, 2010

bandeBande Mataram. Samachar Darpan. Kesari. Ghadar. Somprakash. Sudharak. Young India. Akali. Pratap. These are the names of the newspapers which played an important role during India’s freedom struggle. Printed on paper, they were the mouthpieces of the revolutionaries. The newspapers during those days brought people of similar ideologies together; a vision of free India and a burning desire to end theĀ oppressiveĀ rule of British empire.

Today in free India, the newspapers have been taken over by business houses — there is far more advertising and commercial content being peddled to the masses than before. From soft-porn, cleaving-doting images of celebrities to pure gadgetry which is out of the reach of the common masses. The serious issues of corruption, nepotism, bribery, lack of empathy towards the needs of the common is overlooked by larger parlays of ministerial horse-trading. Sometimes, it takes time to figure out for whom the day’s paper was edited.

On the flip-side, the exciting part is that world is coming full-circle. Internet is bringing people together and giving choices. Internet gives an opportunity to connect, collaborate and bring together a voice which can be amplified several 100 times. US President Barrack Obama’s online campaign has shown us how voices from individuals can easily become a movement. It also shows that a web-only political news website like TalkingPointsMemo can win awards for it’s unbiased coverage on legal, political and social matters which are ignored by the main-stream media. The power of Internet also shows in the form of Huffington Post, where it is now a leading destination of social, political and business commentary from 3,000 eminent writers from politicians to policy experts to celebs.

During the Indian freedom movement, Bhagat Singh used to edit the Amritsar newspaper named Akali and contributed regularly to several others. In one such he wrote (edited) :

“The people generally get accustomed to the established order of things and begin to tremble at the very idea of a change. It is this lethargical spirit that needs be replaced by the revolutionary spirit. Otherwise degeneration gains the upper hand and the whole humanity is led stray by the reactionary forces. Such a state of affiars leads to stagnation and paralysis in human progress. The spirit of Revolution should always permeate the soul of humanity, so that the reactionary forces may not accumulate (strength) to check its eternal onward march. Old order should change, always and ever, yielding place to new…”

India is at the inflection point of revolution; we are seeing excesses of everything. Just like the days of British Raj, one sector of the society has access to the necessities (and more) of life, whereas a large part is devoid. The revolution can be brought only by stitching of information and recirculating the same to the masses in turn bringing awareness.

I believe with the power of Internet, there is a need to create a new mouthpiece of the common man, just like Mahatama Gandhi did with ‘Young India’ or Bipinchandra Pal did with ‘Bande Mataram’. We at Morpheus want to play a role in this change; if you are a passionate writer or a journalist and think you can persevere for next 5 years; away from the niceties of a mainstream media publication, and create such voice online for 999 million Indians; I would love to talk to you.

Image credit: Sri Aurobindo Society

My List of Top 25 .com honorees

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Verisign announced the 25 years of .com awards. They announced a shortlist of 75. Here’s my Top 25 list of honorees. Surprisingly, ICQ is not listed in the shortlist. I have added ICQ to this at #26.

  1. Tim Bernes-Lee
  2. Netscape
  4. Vint Cerf
  5. Craigslist
  6. AOL
  7. Cisco
  8. eBay
  9. James Gosling
  10. CNet
  11. Yahoo
  12. Google
  14. Skype
  16. Paypal
  17. Napster
  18. Netflix
  19. IAC
  21. Flickr
  22. Mapquest
  23. Facebook
  24. Expedia
  25. YouTube
  26. ICQ