Indian digital news dailies are getting the much needed support from VCs. In a recent move, US-based digital publishing company Scroll Media Inc, which runs a digital daily focused on Indian developments under the name Scroll.in, has raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Omidyar Network, the philanthropic VC firm set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, with participation from New York-based Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF).
However, there hasn’t been any information on the deal size. Talking about the funding Samir Patil, CEO of Scroll states that, “Our aim is to provide good quality content to readers across all platforms, including mobile and tablets. So, the funds will go towards enhancing our technology and increasing the pace of the editorial content.”
Founded in 2012 by Samir Patil (CEO), the digital news daily is an independent news, information, and entertainment venture. “Our first offering is a newsfeed that brings into sharp focus the most important political and cultural stories that are shaping contemporary India. Our goal is to add critical perspectives to these stories through rigorous reporting, objective analyses, and expert commentary,” states the company on its portal.
Prior to this Samir, an alumnus of Massachusetts Institute of Technology also founded ACK Media, an entertainment and education company for the youth. He is also co-founder of Smaash Pvt Ltd and Styloot.
Mumbai-based Khaitan & Co advised Omidyar on the latest deal.
This is the second big news in this month related to a digital news portal raising money to keep itself alive and deliver independent views on news and developments. MediaNama reported that News Laundry Media Private Limited, which operates the website Newslaundry.com had sought an approval from India’s Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB), to sell stake to Singapore based Digital Media Laboratory Pte Ltd. It is not clear exactly how much money is being raised, and how much stake is being sold.
The development had raised pertinent questions on the digital news media business in the country, as Newslaundry had filed for an FIPB approval. Co-founder Abhinandan Sekhri has sent MediaNama a statement for the same:
‘Newslaundry filed FIPB because we got a letter dated February 6, 2022 from the Reserve Bank of India saying “You are advised to obtain FIPB approval for the same.” The “same” being the subject of the letter which was “Submission of form FCGPR” regarding our company giving 6.25% stake to Singapore based Digital Media Laboratory (DML) who own the same amount (6.25%) in the production house (Small Screen) that incubated Newslaundry. Since the new company News Laundry Media Pvt Ltd had to be formed we had to (in the spirit of fairness) transfer an equal amount of stake to DML.
We went to North Block and met with officials (Dy Secy) from the Ministry of Finance since we were of the understanding that as a web only platform we didn’t need FIPB. The official at the MoF checked and told us that we did in fact need FIPB clearance before transfer of any shares to DML could be permitted.’