The Business of Media in India

Siddharth Joshi

As an ex IGS UDR who helped launch this blog, it is with great warmth and pride that I return to this evolved platform to give you my story. After graduating in May 2011, I completed my GMAT, did the whole ‘Europe on a shoestring budget’ and went through the arduous process of finding a job. I must say that Brandeis prepared me well for all three situations by refining my academic skills, teaching me how to survive with very little money and providing me with the personal as well as professional skills and qualifications to get a real job.

Life lesson: no matter how skilled or qualified you may be, it is not easy to get a job in a place you enjoy. I was fortunately helped by The Lady (Luck for those not familiar with Pratchett’s Discworld!) and my resume landed in the hands of Rajesh Kamath; a man who single handed, launched, and took a TV channel from anonymity to number one in its genre in India in two years time. He had just been hired as the Indian CEO of an international venture, and only had a CFO working with him at that point. I was the third to join this team, due to opportune circumstances and relevant internships that I had done. I joined, and currently work in the India office of C.A. Media.

 This company is headed by Peter Chernin, former Fox and Newscorp head in Los Angeles. His deputy is Paul Aiello, former head of Star Worldwide, seated in Hong Kong. An example of a truly global company (I would have absolutely used this in my IGS answers back at Brandeis!). Now, C.A. Media is a strange entity; being in its initial stages, it is a private equity fund, backed by a lot of big players due to the potential of the enterprise as well as Chernin’s reputation. However, the company wishes to offer operational and management expertise beyond just funding. It is a focussed fund aiming to build, manage, and operate media, entertainment, and technology businesses throughout the Asia Pacific region. Initially looking at China, India and Indonesia; CA Media aims to capitalize on the compelling growth characteristics of these markets. It has a unique structure, employing less than ten people that enables operational flexibility and the ability to move fast.

You know that clichéd line, “If I told you, I would have to kill you”, well that is sort of the position I find myself while writing this blog post. Details on the projects I am working on are absolutely confidential, however much I may want to share them. I can say that they are perusing all media verticals for opportunities, including content creation, television networks, sports, education, advertising, and digital media.

What it’s like to be in this space, I can share with you. Being a small firm means we have to work really hard. Six days a week, 12-16 hours a day is an average week; come in at 9 am, leave anytime between 9 pm and 1 am, often leaving Saturdays with work to do on Sundays. We have to cater to both our clients and our own investment team siting in Los Angeles. Conference calls can only really happen between 5 am and 8 am as we try and accommodate multiple time zones. There is a plethora of opportunities as the media space is booming in the Asia Pacific region; we have so many we just simply cannot research them all. At the same time, being a small company means we have to prove our worth to clients, often having to prepare huge ‘decks’ for our clients to show them that we can add value to their company. Once we convince our client of our ability, we have to prepare presentations as well as an opportunity/risk assessment of the business for our investment board. We have currently made one investment, are in the throes of four other deals and have plans for a dozen more.

Personally, I do everything from prepare reports and analyses for Peter Chernin, to fixing the printer, the coffee machine and making sure there are staples in the stapler. In a start up there is very little hierarchy and less organization. There are days which I spend organizing files, making sure our phone bills are paid and trying to order a speaker phone for the office. On other days I am sitting in a giant boardroom across industry titans who are pitching their ideas to us, and I am expected to ask questions. To sign off, since I have rambled on for so long (partially in procrastination of my work), I will leave you with one of the most important things I have learned. It does not matter how talented or intelligent you may be, the most important thing in life is your attitude. If you have that right, everything else will fall in to place.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *