Hyderabad-based Way2Online Interactive India, a consumer-focused Internet technology company, has been acquired by Gurgaon-based enterprise mobility and communication services company, ValueFirst Messaging, reportedly for Rs 200 crore in an all-cash deal.
The acquisition brings into ValueFirst’s fold Way2Online’s person-to-person (P2P) messaging portal Way2SMS.com, movie portal Way2Movies.com and 160by2, a P2P business unit of enterprise messaging and advertisement-based free SMS provider SMSCountry, also from Hyderabad, which it had acquired in January 2012, for an undisclosed sum. Way2Online currently has a registered user base of around 37 million in India.
The transaction is one of the largest acquisitions in the Internet industry in India that makes ValueFirst the largest digital media company in the country in terms of revenues as well as the number of users.
With this acquisition, ValueFirst will cross 50 million profiled registered users, add 40,000 fresh registrations daily and get to Rs 250 crore in revenues this financial year, ValueFirst said in a statement.
When contacted, Way2Online founder and chief executive officer, Raju Vanapala, said that Way2Online had, over the years, worked with ValueFirst in multiple businesses and that the latter had been its ethernet partner.
“It is a relationship-based acquisition which derived good value. This buyout will now allow ValueFirst to compete with Facebook and other international players,” he told Business Standard.
According to Google’s Zeitgeist 2011, Way2SMS is listed as one of the top-10 search words in India, besides global brands like Facebook and YouTube, while Alexa.com, which provides information about websites including top sites, Internet traffic statistics and metrics, listed 160by2 as one among the top-100 most visited sites in India in 2010 and 2011.
Way2Online, established in 2006, closed the financial year 2011-12 with revenues of around Rs 30 crore and is targeting revenues of Rs 60 crore this fiscal.
Stating that it was a clear exit for him, Vanapala said the transaction involved a non-compete agreement. “I have retained my entire team of 55. I will be moving ahead with a new venture with focus on consumer Internet and mobile Internet technologies in the next three to four months,” he said.