Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani Discusses His Company’s New Alliance With Gawker Media

Gawker Media, which already has a presence in eight countries, is expanding its international reach even further. Nick Denton, the founder of the company and blog network, announced yesterday that it has entered a strategic partnership with Times Internet, the digital arm of India’s Times Group. Times Internet will manage the Indian versions of Gizmodo and Lifehacker, both of which will offer a combination of original articles and content from their parent sites. I asked Times Internet CEO Satyan Gajwani (pictured above) about how editorial control will be divided between his company and Gawker Media, what the Indian versions of both Web sites will offer, and how they will be monetized.

How much editorial control will Times Internet have over the the local versions of Gizmodo and Lifehacker? How much original content will your local editorial team produce?

We will work closely with Gawker Media to define the editorial team, and to define the editorial voice of the Indian sites. In the end, they will be run by an Indian operation which we will manage, but it’s in our interest as much as theirs to align its editorial guidelines and spirit with the global site, which we intend to do.

We haven’t finalized on an exact split, but we are investing into developing original content specifically for these sites, while leveraging and incorporating the content produced globally.

What will original articles focus on? 

Mostly they’ll focus on similar content but more relevant for Indians. So for Gizmodo, it would likely be around local technology stories, like the low-cost Aakash tablet being developed in India, or smartphone models being released in India, or the local IT policies being set by the Indian government and their implication for Internet users in India. For Lifehacker, it may be around tips on how to navigate Indian bureaucracies, or the best things to pack for a train journey in India. Actually, since the announcement, we’ve been getting interesting ideas that have been shared from regular users. Here are a few of them (from Twitter):

Nitansh Rastogi ‏@nitanshr
Would surely love to have Indianised version of http://lifehacker.com/5973864/the-best-time-to-buy-anything-during-the-year … after this partnership! @Timesinternet

PhaniRaj Kuchibhotla ‏@phanirajkvs
I expect India specific lifehacker to be full of posts like “How to cross road safely in Hyderabad” – http://goo.gl/66yG7 

तस्सवुर शेख ‏@tassavur
Looking at how @Gizmodo functions, it wont be a bad idea for them to hire Rakhi Sawant now that they are coming to India.

(And maybe one day if we bring Gawker to India, we’ll get to do exposes on stories like this haha) http://gawker.com/5973941/man-buys-solid-gold-shirt-to-dazzle-the-ladies

How do you think the demands and tastes of Indian readers will differ from Gawker Media’s US audience? 

We’ve got a pretty good handle on what Indians care about. Fortunately, both of these sites already have a strong loyal following in India, so for us, we want to do more of what’s already working, but locally relevant. That being said, we know that Indians have a lot of interest (for Lifehacker especially) on ways to get more value/bang-to-buck out of regular-day things. And for Gizmodo, we know that the mobile cell phone market is really big in India, particularly for lower-end Android phones, so we might do some more deep diving into that area.

Can you tell me about monetization and what the main sources of revenue for both sites will be? 

It will be mostly advertising, and we’ll extend sponsorship-type models to advertisers in India. The audiences are decently large already, but more than that, it’s a very savvy, early-adopter, technology enthusiast, young audience. And there’s a set of advertisers in India who are interested.

How did the deal between Gawker Media and Times Internet develop? What were the key issues your two companies considered? 

I cold-called Nick and Gaby nearly 2 years ago, and we’ve kept the relationship going since then. We’ve both been very conservative and taken our time to structure out the deal intelligently, because we both want it to succeed. For both of us, the major issues we needed to address were editorial and commercial, and so we spent the time to understand the dynamics for both of us to make it work.

How many readers do you estimate Times Internet will be able to bring to Gizmodo and Lifehacker at their launch? 

Well that’s the exciting part. Offline, we’re the largest media company in India, and we have the strongest reach to the urban, English-speaking audience, which is a good overlap with International media like this. That’s especially relevant in India, where still today, the offline and online worlds are pretty disconnected from each other. So we’re excited about bringing this content outside of the digital space. And online, we’ve got about 30 million unique visitors every month, and we want to expose Gawker’s brands and content to them as well. So it’s hard to estimate, but we’re comfortable expecting at least a 100% growth in India, if not much more, pretty early on.

Can you tell me more about your existing audience in India and why they’d be interested in Gizmodo and Lifehacker? 

We have a large network of sites. Our largest two consumer-oriented sites are Times of India, Economic Times, and Indiatimes. Times of India is the largest general news site, so technology’s a crucial piece for them. Economic Times is the largest business news site, so more industry oriented or high-end consumer tech news is relevant for them. And Indiatimes is really youth-lifestyle oriented, so Gizmodo’s flavor of quirky tech news can fit well there. And across all of them, all Indians love ways to be more productive and more value-efficient, so Lifehacker fits everywhere.

Why were you interested in working with Gawker Media? Why do you think the time is right to launch Gizmodo and Lifehacker in India? 

Honestly, I’ve been reading Gizmodo and Lifehacker for the last 6 years, so it started as a personal passion project. But I think today there’s a growing consumer base in India interested in great, international digital content that’s being produced, and so we think there’s a nice fit for us to be able to grow these brands and expose their content and editorial voice in India. The internet userbase in India is at least over 100 million users, and a major proportion are English speaking, so the market size isn’t small.

This is the first relationship of this sort for us, so we’re going to work on the dynamics and learn from it, for sure. But at the end of the day, both Gawker and we are pretty clear that to succeed, we have to think about getting the brand and the content right, so we will likely work closely to define and continue to refine the editorial personas of these sites.