Times Internet backed content network Instamedia sold, Cofounder Ankit launches BetaOut

Content Network, InstaMedia which raised $4mn funding from Times Internet has sold its properties to different companies.

The company tried creating a content network – right from a news content site to lifestyle (bornrich.org) to gadget, but eventually Instablogs was rebranded Instamedia and sold to a dubai based media group. It was doing around 20Million pageviews when it was sold.instablogs

Times Internet CEO, Satyan Gajwani mentioned the following in his December blogpost.

Led by Ankit Maheshwari, Instamedia focused on creating cost-effective content at scale. Despite a great team, a number of macro factors worked against us, namely Google’s increased shift away from new publishers. As a result, the model didn’t scale the way we hoped, and the business has scaled back from its initial goals.

From what I know, Instamedia was sold in the month of Sep, 2012 to Dr. Prem Jagyasi, though the news wasn’t disclosed. Medianama reports that BornRich is being bought by Instablogs cofounder, Nandini. BornRich was one of the top properties for Instablogs and the SAAS product, Instapress has been sold to Dubai group.

Cofounder, Ankit has launched BetaOut, with Vishal Gondal on the company board.

Instablogs : A Few Gutsy Steps.

- Started from Shimla and operated from the city for a pretty long time (move to Delhi after funding). Yeah, of all the places, the team chose Shimla to start off and even managed a great team working from there (have been to their office and I guess it was one of its kind in Shimla :)).instablogsvideo-thumb.jpg

- Built its own CMS.
If you were around in 2005, you’d know that WordPress and Drupal were not what it is today. They were crappy and had limited features. Instablogs ended up building its own CMS and invested a lot of effort in InstaPress which they licensed to a few media properties including UTV.

- Experimented with Opinions/Features
The team had a strong product attributes and one of the features I always admired in Instablogs was the commenting feature. For any opinion piece (article), commentors could take a side (i.e. Agree or Disagree) and that leads to a lot of engagement.

- Experimented with formats.
For example, a MyYahoo like module, the daily video section etc.

Part of Morpheus’ first batch, the bigger vision for Instablogs was to become DemandMedia from India and while the team successfully created few great properties, they decided to move on and incorporate their experience in the new product, BetaOut.

Cofounder Ankit shares:

“Coffee on a bright Sunday morning in 2005 and various lifestyle magazines sitting idle on a coffee table.

The idea to launch lifestyle blogs in different niches and bringing bloggers together just took over my thoughts. Within days we had built a small team and officially opened doors for Instablogs.

Our reader base grew quickly. In a year, we touched our first million pageview per month mark and never looked back. We quickly outgrew our 200sqft office and technologies very fast. Many times had to move to bigger servers in short spans.

We wanted to scale and sought external funding.

We raised $4million in venture capital in 2010 with a business plan to scale our content operation quickly. The plan was to build a team of internal and freelance contributors who would work together without diluting the vision of each site.

Bigger might be better, but bigger also means extra set of problems. Managing a small team where everyone knew each others dog’s and girlfriend’s name and a team working in different time zone that never had any face to face interaction is completely different.

Senior editors started struggling with managing freelancers and training new team members, while freelancers queries on a large part remained unanswered or delayed.

We had a powerful CMS built which could easily handle content distribution and vast amount of traffic with minimal server resources, but communicating across the team started becoming a nightmare.

We hacked together Basecamp, Google Docs and our CMS for a workflow but it proved inadequate for scalable content operation. We tried various tools and wrote tons of code to integrate them in our CMS, but the reality was that our editors were working like managers. They were focussing more on team management than actual content strategy.

One thing we failed to realize at that time was that we needed a proper content production management software in addition to a world quality CMS.

CMS are meant for managing content, and we had built one of the best CMS out there. We even licensed it to Nokia and a media giant UTV in India. But, where we struggled was absence of a software bringing an order to the editorial newsroom chaos.

One of the biggest success mantras for Demand Media was building a great application to manage large team from ideation, delegation, workflow engine, feedback mechanism, payment management, performance tracking of team members and a robust editorial calendar. WordPress and Drupal just like our internal CMS, Instapress, are perfect for managing and distributing content but building a workflow engine in them as a module are more of hacks than the actual solution.

Eventually Instablogs was rebranded Instamedia and sold to a dubai based media group. It was doing around 20Million pageviews when it was sold.

But what I am doing now is still connected to that cup of coffee on a Sunday morning.

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This is how startups evolve!