Network18's content vertical Web18 has appointed Durga Raghunath as the CEO of the news site Firstpost.com. Durga joined Network18 group in December 2010 as VP - products at Web18. She was also instrumental in conceptualising, building and launching Firstpost two years ago.
Prior to joining Network18, Durga was India Editor - mobile and new digital products at The Wall Street Journal. She has also worked at LiveMint and HarperCollins Publishers.
Talking to techcircle, she said her vision and journey with Firstpost. "The first year was primarily about setting up a exclusive digital newsfront; it was about building digital editorial—opinion journalism as well as interaction around opinion journalism. In the second year, we learnt a lot from the social participation around our content," she said. Going forward, the firm will be looking at introducing Firstpost in multiple formats for the users. "You will definitely see Firstpost in more than one avenue," she said.
On plans of monetisation of the highly popular content of Firstpost, Durga stated that the possibility is ruled out for now. "I don't think there is a 'paid-for' opportunity in the Indian market. In B2B its completely different situation but in the B2C current affairs vertical, it's very hard to charge for content," Durga said. She added that the firm will be looking at monetisation routes and eBooks might be one of them. It will also look at going beyond traditional display ads and at more interactive forms of advertisements.
Firstpost recently acquired satire news portal FakingNews. On what were the synergies between these two extreme ended products—Firstpost and FakingNews Durga said that they both cater to the same audience. "Without a doubt we are two very different kinds of portals but I feel the audience is the same. The same person who would be deeply interested in current affairs and news would also laugh about it," she said.
Would the firm be looking at more acquisitions soon? No, said Durga. She said acquisitions and partnerships are purely opportunistic and depend on user behaviour. "We are not actively looking for acquisition and it all depends on user behaviour. If we do get some huge insights from our users that is when we start looking for synergies and partnerships," she said. She said the portal has some 4.5-5.5 million unique users daily.
(Edited by Joby Puthuparampil Johnson)