Directi to invest over $110 m to scale up four businesses

Varun Aggarwal Mumbai | Updated on January 16, 2018

Bhavin Turakhia, CEO, Directi

Billionaire brothers Bhavin and Divyank Turakhia are all set to create large billion dollar businesses after selling off their ad-tech firm for $900 million recently.

Bhavin, CEO of parent company Directi, under which he runs all his businesses, is in the process of investing a fresh $110 million in its remaining four businesses — messaging app Flock, Domain registry firm Radix, online telephony firm Ringo and tax saving app Zeta.

However, Bhavin said all of the $110-million investment will come from the company's current cash reserves and not from the $900 million that Directi received by selling its online advertising business.

“We honestly, haven't thought about what we will do with the $900 million. We have enough cash already to invest in current businesses. We may look for acquisitions, but at the moment, the focus is on building what we already have internally,” Bhavin told BusinessLine in an interview.

“Overall we have committed $110 million for this and the next financial year. We will be investing this money in product development, people and sales and marketing,” said Bhavin, who set up Directi along with his younger brother in 1998 with a meagre capital of ₹25,000. The brothers are now jointly worth $1.4 billion. For Radix, the investment will go into purchasing top-level domain names in auctions.

This financial year, the company had spent $11 million in acquiring rights for the .store domain name registry alone. It also owns several other domain registries such as .press, .online, .website and .host.

Directi has invested $32 million in Radix since 2014 and will invest another $18 million in the current financial year. The business has sold over 3.2 million domain names and is expected to cross 5 million in the next one year.

In Zeta and Flock, the bulk of the investment will go into sales and marketing.

The Flock was launched as an enterprise messaging app, akin to WhatsApp, but targeted groups instead of individuals to collaborate and share files. It also includes cab booking, reserving conference rooms in offices, getting workflow approvals within a company and many day-to-day activities.

Updated version of Flock

Flock’s updated version has seen more than 2.5 lakh downloads, from almost every possible country. Directi had invested $7 million in Flock last year and is planning to invest another $23 million in the next two years.

Tax saving app Zeta is currently focussing only on the India market.

Bhavin said he wants to increase the capabilities of the app to help salaried employees save as much as possible in taxes.

“Currently, an employee can save up to ₹30,000 by spending through Zeta. There are 26 perquisites and 25 allowances in the Income Tax act. Our objective is to let employees save between ₹70,000 to ₹90,000 in taxes. We will be setting up an office for Zeta in the US soon and will try and tap that market as well,” Bhavin said.

The growth of the four companies is so rapid that hiring plans are getting revised.

“We had plans to hire 1,000 people this year. But it looks like we will end up hiring more than 1,500,” he said.

Published on September 12, 2016

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