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How Rafat Ali Found a Job (Part 10)

Posted on Saturday, Sep 13th 2008

SM: How does this fit with Guardian’s growth plans?

RA: They are entering India, and they are entering the US, which is one of the reasons they bought us. They believed in our growth plans.The growth plans that we were going to raise funding on are the same ones that Guardian bought us for. We have specific plans on scaling from here.

SM: How do you define ‘here’? What are the benchmarks in terms of revenues, visits, or other metrics?

RA: We have doubled our revenues every year. We have grown from two people to 30 people. We have offices in Santa Monica, New York, and London. We are now exploring potential allied verticals. We would like to add more verticals we can either start ourselves or potentially acquire from smaller properties. We have started on research reports, and we are going to launch an online advertising report that we hope will sell well.

We are starting to look at the data side of the business. We have a lot of archives and rich data for the past six years, all of which are very unstructured beyond a blog structure. If we want to know about certain deals in a certain sector in a particular value range then we are out of luck, at least right now. We are going to try and build a robust database which offers potential revenues through a subscription service.

SM: So you are going to consider information services as well?

RA: Yes. Information database services, which is a typical trade media mentality. We have no intentions of being a consumer company. The key, I have always said, is we are the filter for an industry that is in chaos. For busy senior executives in this space, how do we organize it? First you organize based on the efficiency of consumption. We do that through blog posts and aggregation. At a conference, how do you pack in the most in a day or half a day? Even in research reports, how do readers get a snapshot of the market in a way that is most efficient to them? That is why we go into SEC filings, earnings reports, earnings calls, etc. We are trying to extract everything that is newsworthy. That is why we are not heavy on opinion. The goal is news, data, and context. Another great thing about Guardian is that they bought with trust. They look at businesses on a long-term horizon.

SM: I think that is especially important, as it sounds like this is what you want to do with your life. Finding the right partner who will let you do that is important.

RA: I have known a lot of individuals in Guardian. I watched the entry attempts in the US market. They tried to enter the US market the consumer route by launching a weekly, and it did not work. They realized that consumer is not the way to enter, business-to-business is. They are the head of a powerful balance sheet, and the exchange rate between the dollar and the pound made a great opportunity for them from a business perspective. We are the flagship for now. I am sure they will look at other stuff as well, probably in other business-to-business spaces.

SM: Congratulations. This has been a great story, and I think you are very fortunate to have made the deal with Guardian.

This segment is part 10 in the series : How Rafat Ali Found a Job
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

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why no question on the present or future of contentsutra?

guest Friday, November 14, 2008 at 4:27 AM PT

Thanks again Sramana, for another inspiring read, along with a mug of hot tea. I always feel like windows are opening in my head after reading one of your series. 🙂

Bob Kirk Friday, November 14, 2008 at 10:01 PM PT