Webdunia.com, one of the first Indian vernacular language portals, was launched in the heady days of the Internet boom in 1999. Born out of its owner-entrepreneur's dream of empowering his countrymen with information in their own vernacular language, Webdunia attracted venture funding focused on building traffic and hits to the portal. The meltdown in internet and portal business worldwide exposed the tenuous link between the venture capitalist's short-term view and the owner-manager's long-term objective in planning the future of Webdunia. Under testing conditions, tradeoffs between immediate revenue streams from rapidly expanding mobile telephone business in vernacular language and a much more slowly growing internet based business in e-governance, rural agricultural procurement and portal hits put the owner-entrepreneur in a dilemma. He was caught between the new partner's confidence in Webdunia's vernacular language computing and communications strength and revenue streams for immediate survival of the business. Synergistic linkages between transferable competencies and emerging growth opportunities in mobile telephony area promises short-term relief to the firm. However, in pursuing this path of empowering people in vernacular space, the owner-entrepreneur may take Webdunia away from leveraging internal competencies and assets in the language space including transliteration and voice and speech recognition where future sources of revenue could lie. This case is useful in assessing short-term and long-term directions of the firm and the dilemma of dealing with short-term perspectives of investors and shareholders.
Vernacular Language, Internet Portal, Venture Funding
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