Telecom service provider Bharti Airtel has acquired a strategic stake in Juggernaut Books, a popular digital platform for reading, and publishing books. The investment from Airtel will enable Juggernaut to ramp up content acquisition, digital publishing & marketing and prepare for a subscription offering launch in the next few months.
Badal Bagri, Chief Financial Officer, Bharti Airtel said, “Juggernaut is an exciting digital platform and complements our content vision. We look forward to working with them and supporting the next phase of their growth journey.”
Founded in 2016 by Chiki Sarkar, Delhi-based digital publishing startup Juggernaut Books is a mobile reading app hosting books across various categories like non-fiction, fiction, crime, reference, business, romance and so many more. The platform has close to 1 Mn downloads across Android and iOS.
Speaking of the fundraise, publisher, Chiki Sarkar said, “We are excited to partner with Airtel in our journey ahead. Airtel has a great understanding of digital content consumption and we have much to learn and benefit from this strategic partnership”.
Juggernaut’s former investors include Infosys co-founder and current Chairman, Nandan Nilekani and Boston Consulting Group India CEO Neeraj Aggarwal. In May 2017, the writer’s platform went live to offer amateur writers the ability to publish their content digitally and even stand a chance to win publishing contracts. The writer’s platform, in the past six months, has received just under 500 stories with nine of them securing publishing contracts.
Why Are Telecom Companies Buying Digital Publishing Companies?
The investment is in line with Airtel’s endeavour to build an open content ecosystem and bring world-class digital content to its customers, said Bharti Airtel in a company statement.
For the past few years, leading telecom houses have forayed into the content creation and media platforms. Globally, one of the largest telecom companies, AT&T has recently acquired controlling stakes in Time Warner which owns HBO, Warner Brothers, CNN, Cartoon Network and DC Comics. In India, another telecom giant Mukesh Ambani-owned Reliance Industries, which also runs Jio, acquired one of the biggest Indian media firms Network 18, a few years back.
Telecom companies in India are no longer warring to make profits by distributing cheap telecom services. Instead, they are focussing on selling more and more data to users through effective integration of AI, with the aim to build a better ecosystem in future. The acquisition by Airtel is in line with the intention to enhance customer engagement and provide more personalised content to its Internet users. Expecting to leap 9-fold by 2020-2021, Bharti Airtel has already established a host of initiatives in this regard such as Airtel Payments Bank and Airtel music and online store. Acquiring strategic stake in digital reading and publishing platform Juggernaut books is another step in deepening its overall ecosystem.