In the world’s second most populous country more Indian people go to Rediff.com for e-mail, online shopping, dating and blogging than anywhere else. Bolstered by this impressive user base, Chief Executive Officer Ajit Balakrishnan believes that Rediff can compete in an international “portal war” with the likes of Yahoo and Google. “There are five or six or seven companies in the world who are now neck-and-neck in competition in this area,” he says. “We consider ourselves to be one of them.”
Two problems, however: The 40 million visitors a month to Rediff’s various sites equal the total number of Internet users in the nation of 1.1 billion. And they spend a paltry number of rupees in the process. Both Yahoo and Google had more than $3 billion in sales last year. Rediff brought in 581 million rupees, or $12.6 million.