Dailyhunt marks overseas foray with start in Middle East

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New Delhi: VerSe Innovation Pvt. Ltd, which raised $805 million in April, has marked its push overseas with the launch of its flagship news and content aggregator business, Dailyhunt, in the Middle East, a top executive said.

This comes at a time when the Dailyhunt business was breaking even before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) over the past three months. VerSe Innovation co-founder Umang Bedi said Dailyhunt has posted 3-4% Ebitda for the past three months, in line with its stated goal of achieving profitability at parent level over the next two to three years.

In the Middle East, Dailyhunt will initially be available in English and Arabic in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and Kuwait. It is planned to gradually add local languages ​​such as Farsi and Hebrew.

“Our strength is local languages, and just like in India, where local languages ​​are a dominant part of the web via content and other consumer behaviors, we’re seeing a similar trend here,” Bedi said.

He explained that one of the reasons for choosing the Middle East for the international foray was the size of the population. The Gulf Cooperation Council or GCC region, which includes Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman, is home to around 60 million people and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has a population of over 300 million , said Bedi . In addition, rising Internet penetration, particularly in the GCC, which is already at 98%, high levels of public news consumption and the growth potential of the advertising market were other factors in targeting this region.

Dailyhunt’s Middle East operations, which will be headquartered in Dubai, will be led by Shekhar Iyer, who has been appointed Director and General Manager. The company has already partnered with over 5,000 content partners serving the UAE market. The local language content platform will soon partner with news publishers including MENA Newswire, Al Khaleej, The Brew, Chalk Media, Brandknew, KKompany, Mudgal Kreations, Buzzing, Gulf Today, it said in a separate statement.

Meanwhile, Bedi said the company is well capitalized for now and does not need to raise additional funds for its overseas growth.

VerSe Innovation, which also runs short video editor Josh and hyperlocal community news platform PublicVibe, raised $805 million in April in a funding round led by CPP Investments at a valuation of approximately $5 billion.

However, Bedi said there is no plan at this time to take Josh overseas.

He also pointed out that while the company has been on the runway for more than a few years and its recently raised $805 million remains untouched, it is not isolated from the current downturn, which has forced some heavily backed venture capital startups to laid off employees last few weeks.

Bedi said Dailyhunt has three broad cost areas, led by IT and technology, or technology costs. This is followed by discretionary spending on digital marketing and digital audience acquisition, and the programs it creates to fuel the content ecosystem.

Personnel costs are lower compared to those three costs and therefore no mass layoffs are planned, he said.

Bedi said the company is limiting its technology costs by making code more efficient and streamlining costs with cloud players.

“When you serve millions of users, your cloud costs skyrocket,” he pointed out. Some of the ways to fix this is to make sure the engineers are disciplined enough and working on the right algorithms and not running thousands of experiments; Optimizing video encoding architecture to use less bandwidth and better negotiating rate per unit with cloud players.

Bedi also said he doubts Dailyhunt will ever dare to create its own content. “These are capital-intensive businesses and our whole goal is to be asset light,” he noted.

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