News that bucks a trend always makes eyebrows move up. Last week, while we received more bad news on the Satyam Computer Services fraud saga and the global recession, one piece of information that stood out was microchip maker Intel's funding of three Indian companies amounting to $23 million.
The break-up is not available, but the substantial chunk of this seems to have gone for One97 Communications, a Noida-based company which is quietly marching ahead in the word of mobile commerce and content. A startup company getting something in the range of Rs. 50 crore in the current market conditions is not a joke.
Increasingly, mobile phones offer everything from jokes and ringtones to other content and commercial deals. "Social software" firms like One97 enable this by creating business models and technology platforms that help telephone service operators and partners reach across to end-users, share content, price them and get paid for them.
The rise of 3G telephony and smartphones will drive value added service (VAS) revenues, aiding social software companies like One97. This company is aiming for revenues of $100 million (that's nearly Rs 500 crore) in 2010.
Another company to watch out for will be Hungama.com – thus for known as Virtual Marketing India Pvt Ltd. Headed by Neeraj Roy, who has tenaciously hung on the "DotCom" dream, Hungama has a Bollywood portal (www.bollywoodhungama.com, earlier known as Indiafm.com), a gaming site and plenty of technological applications lurking beneath them.
Roy recently dropped in to my office to explain his vision. I could catch on to just bits of what he said, given the back-end complexity of partnerships and technologies. But it was simple enough for me to understand that companies that hide the back-end complexity while making things easier for content-wallahs and customers at the front-end will have a roaring time in the coming days.