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Yahoo buys out Bangalore startup Bookpad

BANGALORE: After Facebook and Google acquired Little Eye Labs and Impermium respectively, here comes yet another acquisition of an Indian startup by a global technology major, underlining the growing innovativeness of the country's startup ecosystem.

Yahoo has bought Bangalore-based Bookpad, a startup that's barely a year old and founded by three youngsters who passed out of IIT-Guwahati over the past three years. The precise value of the deal could not be ascertained, but sources said it's a little under $15 million (Rs 90 crore).

Bookpad's enterprise software product, DocsPad, allows users to view any document (like PDF, Word, Powerpoint), as also edit and annotate it, within a website or app. It works across devices, and does not require downloading of plug-ins or desktop software. For Yahoo, a content provider, the technology can potentially be embedded in many of its services. IT industry body Nasscom's 10,000 Startups programme had identified Bookpad as a promising idea and the venture was incubated at the Startup Warehouse established by Nasscom and the Karnataka government in Bangalore. It was later part of the Microsoft Accelerator programme in the city.

Rajan Anandan, Google India MD and who has been a key figure in the Nasscom 10,000 Startups programme, said Bookpad is a very focused product that has got good traction with virtually no money raised. "The acquisition by a global technology firm is a big validation for India's product ecosystem. Over the next few years, we will have many $1-billion product companies as India's capability to build product companies become prevalent and proven," he said.

Yahoo had not responded to TOI's request for a comment till the time of going to print.

Bookpad's founders include Aditya Bandi, 25, Niketh Sabbineni, 24, and Ashwik Battu, 23. Bandi graduated with a degree in design from IIT-Guwahati in 2011 and had brief stints at Microsoft, Cognizant and Symantec. Sabbineni graduated in computer science in 2012, and worked briefly in Amazon. The youngest, Battu, graduated as a chemical engineer just this year.

They wanted to solve a pain point they faced as students. They used to upload various document formats to the cloud, but they couldn't edit or annotate them in real time.

Bookpad's big break came when they participated in Nasscom's Innotrek, a trip to Silicon Valley earlier this year that was designed to help Indian startups to meet US technology giants and familiarize them with the startup environment there. During the trip, they met M&A consultant Rob Schram, who later helped broker the deal between Yahoo and Bookpad.

Ravi Gururaj, head of Nasscom's product council, said, "Our nurturing process is clearly working. Mynoticeperiod (another startup that's part of the Startup Warehouse) received funding from IDG, and now this. We will take this template forward."

Srivatsa Krishna, IT secretary in the Karnataka government, said, "Bookpad has done us proud by being acquired by Yahoo. It is disruptive technology at its best. Bangalore is inching its way up to becoming the startup capital of the world." All the six full-time Bookpad employees, including the three founders, will join Yahoo's engineering team in Bangalore. The deal includes cash, earnouts and stock options.

Currently, Bookpad supports 15 different document formats. The potential is huge considering that 2.5 billion people browse the internet and 53 billion documents are on the cloud today and the number is expected to touch 200 billion within the next two years.

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