The Indian local search market is hotting up with Internet giant Yahoo acquiring a 30% stake in Chennai-based Network Management Co. Pvt. Ltd (Inmac), which own the telephone-based directory search service Call Ezee. The current local search is dominated by JustDial and Infomedia Group’s Yellow Pages, while there are newer entrants like AskLaila of Four Interactive and Guruji.com.
Call Ezee claims to have services in 14 cities across India. Yahoo’s investment in Inmac is not known. According to the company founder and Chief Executive T. S. Narayanaswamy, Yahoo’s cash infusion and technology will help the company expand its reach to some 40-50 cities, grow its information data base five-fold to 10 million items and improve call volumes 10 times by end 2009, according to a report in The Hindu.
Call Ezee is primarily on phone, however local search companies have been adopting multi-media search to stay ahead of the market. Google has launched its local search in India, and is also said to be testing an interactive voice based local search. SAIF Partners-funded JustDial, by far the best, has a large phone based service, and has of late built up an exhasutive internet search engine.
Matrix Partners-funded AskLaila is creating local search content and reviews about local companies from scratch and is hoping to capture the market share at a later stage.
Sequoia Capital funded Guruji.com is primarily internet based and is becoming more of a general search engine for India rather than a local search firm. The company recently launched Guruji Finance.
Yahoo’s entry to the Indian local search market will surely hot the space up. Mumbai based investment bank Blend Financial Services was the sole advisor to Inmac on the deal.