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.

11 comments:

suyash said...

you will get the best deals on arzoo.com. Once upon a time Sabeer Bhatia owned it, maybe he still does. Arzoo doesn't advertise much but it gets you the cheapest fare. Swear!

Girish Shahane said...

I signed on to one of arzoo's ticket schemes once and got diddled, won't go into the details. But maybe it's improved, I'll give it another try.

Akshay said...

So my ex-boss was in one of those hotshot Asian (ie Singapore-based) dotcoms which blew through a huge wad of money from Japanese investors in a very short time. I believe Aeron chairs and hookers were involved, with some combination of both. Sadly, I don't know the name of this dot-com, but my ex-boss insisted I'd know if he told me the name.

Anyway, point was this: at a certain point, they grew big enough to create enough vibe that Singapore's Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) assigned them as 'mentors' for "poorer" cousins from other Asian countries. Apparently, MakeMyTrip had applied to be a mentee, and as fate would have it, my ex-boss was assigned as their mentor. Those were hedonistic days; in a drunken fit, my ex-boss apparently told them that they won't make money with tickets, and that the only way to make money was with porn. MakeMyTrip.com should become MakeMeStrip.com, was his considered recommendation.

Given that they still need to turn a profit, seems like my ex-boss was right after all.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I met my husband (online in 1999) at Chaitime.com and we got married in 2007. Am glad our marriage unlike the site hasn't gone bust :)

Cheers!

Girish Shahane said...

Anon, that's a seriously long courtship you had. Glad something good came of Chaitime. Actually, I have only fond memories of my time with the website, since I never expected it to last.

nash said...

you worked in dotcom company, did columns. All in past tense. What exactly you do now, to keep your "ghar ka chula" burning. Just curious :)

Girish Shahane said...

I'm advisor to a newly established art award called The Skoda Prize. I write a column for Yahoo! India; the earlier one was for Time Out. I lecture a fair bit, plus I freelance, writing occasional articles, catalogue essays, stuff like that.

Blackfayth said...

Let's not forget the time spent at certain tables which haven't treated you too badly :)

Girish Shahane said...

They treat me well as long as I don't get my chips in before the river...

Blackfayth said...

There was the odd occasion when the river was kind. Still remember that hand (AK v AA v QQ) from the June event when you hit the 3rd Q on the river. AK (Ricky C) and AA looked like the kids whose puppy got ran over by the neighbour's car lol

Girish Shahane said...

Yup, I did mention that hand in my blog about the last IPC, but since then I'm about 1 for 10 on races.