Friday, August 13, 2010
MakeMyTrip's long journey
When I worked for Chaitime between the dotcom boom and bust, we had a fabulously located office in the Eros theatre building, Churchgate. The venture capital firm backing Chaitime, eVentures, had also put about 2 million dollars in a travel site called MakeMyTrip (MMT), headed by Deep Kalra. MMT used a small part of the leased Churchgate space. Chaitime soon collapsed, but MMT soldiered on, with Deep Kalra taking a stake himself and finding willing investors like Softbank Asia Infrastructure Fund (SAIF) after eVentures pulled out. The focus of the company gradually changed from targetting PIOs to serving the local Indian market.
At its launch, the plan for MMT must have envisioned a public offering in 2001. The IPO finally fructified in 2010, after something like 50 million dollars had been poured into the site. MMT has yet to turn a profit, but at the end of its first day of trading on the Nasdaq its share price had jumped 90%, leaving the company valued at 800 million dollars. We can expect a slew of new issues from Indian travel sites following this huge success.
Rediff.com, the one Indian site that was actually listed during the boom, has also yet to claw out of the red, and is currently valued at between 50 and 60 million dollars.
For what it's worth, my favourite website for online bookings is Cleartrip. I gave up on MakeMyTrip because it sent me lots of sms spam, often at odd hours.