TECH TALK: 10 Trends for the Indian Internet 2001: 10 Trends for the Indian Internet 2001

The Red Herring recently came up with a Tech Trends for 2001. Its 10 Trends were: Computing, Intellectual Property, Venture Capital, Wireless, Communications, International, Government, Energy and Biotech. So, I decided to take a look ahead to what would be the 10 Indian Internet trends for 2001. My choices: Entrepreneurship, Bandwidth, eBusiness, Venture Capital, IT-enabled Services, Consolidation, Education, Mass Market, Wireless and Government. We will cover each of these in columns over the next 2 weeks. But first, let us take a look back at the last 12 months.

2000 began with a frenzy – a land-grab on the Indian Internet. Dotcoms launched, private capital and venture capital money flowed, a people exodus to the “new economy” began – it was like there was no tomorrow. First-to-market, eyeballs and Nasdaq were the only things that mattered. So, within a few months, we had 15 cricket sites, 20 personal finance sites, 10 horizontal portals. Advertising hoardings sold out, newspapers had website ads by the dozen. It all seemed like a perfect formula: raise money, spend it, raise more money at a higher valuation, spend that also and so on. Somewhere there, one would either get acquired or IPO – whichever fetched more money. The Internet had arrived in India. Finally. Or so it seemed.

The Golden era of the Indian Internet lasted less than 6 months. As the Nasdaq fell, so did the hopes of Indian entrepreneurs. What everyone forgot was that the user base was still only 2-3 million, and they were mainly interested in email, chat and cricket. The only audience generating any real value was the one outside India, and no one was really targeting them. As revenues became scarce, reality started dawning. This was not a short-term game. It actually consisted of creating an organisation, building a brand, and doing it all profitably. It is perhaps worth remembering that the two Indian Internet companies that did IPO on Nasdaq (Satyam Infoway and Rediff) were launched 5 years ago.

Sanity has finally returned. But it has been an expensive, and in some cases, a painful learning process — for entrepreneurs, for employees, for investors, for everyone. As the year nears its end, business is back to fundamentals: revenues, gross margins, profits and growth. The Internet is for real, dreams aren’t. Despair not – the Internet is having a profound impact on us, our businesses and our interactions with others. We have seen an end, but it is only the end of the beginning.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.