The saga of Housing.com, once a red-hot tech startup in India, has reached a conclusion of sorts after the company was sold to rival PropTiger in a deal announced this week.
Housing.com was once heralded as a trailblazer for its efforts to digitize the sale and rental of property in India. But a fall from grace, which included the ejection of its outspoken CEO and the removal of its rental business in favor of the more lucrative home sales market, has resulted in this fairly underwhelming merger.
The joint entity, which is being labeled “India’s largest online real estate services company,” will get a financial boost, to push on. Australia’s REA Group will put $50 million into its coffers, with SoftBank — which led a $90 million investment in Housing.com two years ago — providing an additional $5 million.
SoftBank aside, News Corp is another big name backer of the venture — it back PropTiger in 2014 via its first India-based deal — and it was confirmed that the media giant will remain PropTiger’s largest investor following this coming-together. REA is a News Corp-owned venture, so this investment furthers its level of skin in the game. All in all, PropTiger has raised $85 million from investors while Housing.com has pulled in $160 million, according to Crunchbase.
A source close to the companies told TechCrunch that the deal values Housing.com at around $75 million, that’s the same price that SoftBank used for its latest $5 million bridge round for the company in November.
Going forward, Housing.com Jason Kothari will move on to pastures new with PropTiger co-founder and CEO Dhruv Agarwala taking the reins of the joint company. Kothari stepped in to head Housing.com in 2015 after the firing of former CEO Rahul Yadav, the company’s maverick co-founder who upset his board an pledged to give away his shares among other things. Yadav, an open critic of SoftBank and other investors, told Quartz he believes that the company will be shuttered soon following this deal.
“All the excellent talent that it had has already left and those who remained are looking for better opportunities. Traffic has already eroded and, soon, brand Housing.com will die,” he said, adding that he never considered PropTiger a rival in the past.
January is less than two-weeks old, but already it has brought plenty of drama to India’s startup space. More to come in the next eleven and a half months, no doubt.