#EXCLUSIVE: CEO Hitesh Oberoi's plan to make the $5 billion Info Edge worth a lot more
- In an exclusive interview with Business Insider,
Hitesh Oberoi, MD and CEO Info Edgeshares the inside joke on how they never thought the company would be worth so much.
- Info Edge has just posted its third quarter earnings with a loss of ₹62 crore, from a profit of ₹ 330 crore in the same quarter last year.
- Oberoi also shared their aggressive growth plans in their sectors –
jobs, real estate, matrimony and education.
Info Edge, one of India’s earliest internet companies, is today worth over $5 billion (₹36721 crore) market cap. And, its founders Hitesh Oberoi and Sanjeev Bikchandani are only gunning for more.
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“If you would have told us five years ago that we’ll be a $5 billion company, I would have said, -are you joking,” says Hitesh Oberoi, co-promoter, MD and CEO Info Edge with a laugh.
In an interview with Business Insider, Oberoi, shares their aggressive growth plans and why they are not slowing down, despite an economic slowdown.
AdvertisementInfo Edge, which runs
India is in the middle of a slowdown and Info Edge runs two verticals which are most hit by a slowdown - jobs and real estate.
“Operationally, things have been slowing down and that’s impacted the jobs business as well as the real estate business. But of course, Naukri continues to generate an EBITDA of close to ₹100 crores a quarter. Business is profitable but revenue growth has sort of slowed down,” said Oberoi.
Info Edge’s revenue stood at ₹320.5 crore for Q3FY20, up by 14% from the same quarter in the previous year.
Aggressive growth plans
Oberoi says that they have robust growth plans and strategies in place. While doing so, Info Edge, which also invests in startups, is putting its operating businesses first.
“We are investing in a bunch of areas in and around the job space – we acquired IIMJobs recently. We also continue to invest in data science, machine learning to improve the experience on our platform. We acquired a startup called Ambition Box a few years ago, we are scaling that. We are experimenting with small small things in the blue collar space. The First Naukri business is also coming along nicely,” he said.
Lessons from the slowdown
The 23-year old internet company is not new to slowdowns. In fact, it had also survived the great recession of 2008 and learned a few lessons along the way.
“We are a cash rich company, we have funds available, if we keep investing through the slowdown, what we have seen in the past is we gain share when we get out of the slowdown. We will not be foolish, we will not take stupid risks but we will not cut down on investing. Hopefully, when we do that and we gain share we will emerge stronger,” he said.
Markets have surprised them
The year of 2020 has been off to a good start for them as the company noticed an upward spike in its share prices. Info Edge was one of the earliest internet companies to be listed in 2006. It rose from ₹8 billion market cap in 2006, it has multiplied its value by 46 times to ₹367.6 billion.
But Oberoi says even while the stock price goes up or down, their job is to focus on the business. “We continue to focus on our operating performance – moving our topline, launching new products, EBITDA margins, bringing more efficiency into the company. We have been listed for 13 years now, stock prices go up and down. One should not get distracted,” he said.
He explains that one of the reasons for the heightened interest is that with the rise in share prices, Info Edge has entered the MSE index and is considered as a large cap company now.
AdvertisementNo 5th vertical, but new things in store
With a focussed approach for growth, Info Edge is also sure of one thing – there’s no fifth vertical in store for them, at least not now.
“I don’t think we are going to be doing new things – the spaces we are in are very large. We are trying something in the blue collar space, Ambition box - the startup we acquired, we are trying to scale that up – it’s more around culture and tools. We are scaling up IIMJobs we acquired. We are working on software to help companies automate their recruitment management processes,” he said.
AdvertisementInfo Edge also has fingers in the real estate pie – with 99acres. “Most of the properties listed today are residential real estate. Today, we don’t do too much of rental, we don’t do anything in commercial – but these are very large opportunities. Inside the categories we are in, the opportunities are huge. Real estate is 10% of the GDP of any country, that’s how big real estate is,” explained Oberoi.
Watch Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma explain how his startup will turn a profit in the next two years after 10 years of losses
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