Mediaah! by Pradyuman Maheshwari: The Rise and Rise of Anurag Batra

20 Sep,2013

By Pradyuman Maheshwari

 

If Anurag Batra had his way, he would possibly want the day to have a few hundred hours. Reason? He could then network several times over. Widely regarded as kingmaker in the media, Mr Batra loves his food and meeting people. He is known to have multiple breakfast meetings, followed by a couple of lunches and then a dinner or two. And not to forget the early evening snack or juice and post-dinner coffee.

 

He is passionate about helping people across all levels and strata and then at times seeks help for his businesses and his friends. So depending on who you are and what kind of stuff you like, he’ll gift you a book with a personalized note. And if you are the type who wears printed socks, he’ll even bring you those from one of his various international travels.

 

I have had the fortune of knowing him well for over a decade – first as a friend and then employed with the exchange4media group that he co-owns. After I quit e4m over an ethical issue in 2011, he was a friend too. He gave me a fond farewell and insist I keep an iPad he had gifted me the previous year. He unfriended me on Facebook a year after I set up MxMIndia.

 

Anurag (or Annurag, as his publications spell his name) was invited by his friend and co-partner Amit Agnihotri to join the group in the late 1990s. A textile engineer and MBA by education (TIT Bhiwani and MDI Gurgaon), he started working in the real estate sector and then with ad agency JWT (then HTA). While Amit is designated Editorial Director, he now spends most of his time running MBAUniverse, an MBA-preparatory service provider. The third partner is Nawal Ahuja who moved to Mumbai in the company’s early days to kickstart operations. He now runs exchange4media.com and Impact editorially as well as heads the business end in Mumbai. There were two sets of partners – adman and BJP loyalist Sushil Pandit and the husband-wife duo of Nitin and Mona Jain. A few years back, Pandit was fighting the Anurag, Amit and Nawaltrio in the Courts. Pandit couldn’t be reached at the time of writing while Nitin Jain said he had virtually written off his investment.

 

The litigation may have taken its toll on the group’s expansion plans, but that hasn’t stopped Anurag from forging ahead. He set up fashion site Stylekandy and the now-defunct media school FMCC. There were a few other media operations that he has rumoured to have funded, but these are unconfirmed. Earlier this year, he is said to have bought a digital marketing site in Singapore.

 

The Businessworld acquisition clearly propels Anurag to a different league of media-owners. From being a Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of a B2B media group he is now the man spearheading one of India’s best known and respected media brands.

 

Will Anurag be able to turn around Businessworld? As a genre, all news magazines and business mags in particular are under tremendous pressure. But the loads of enthusiasm and energy that he comes with, networking with people who matter, and the desire to achieve the impossible could get him there with organising events and look at innovative ways to earn revenues. Businessworld already has a top-grade editorial team and a few tweaks in content and packaging could help it shore up the offering. Friends and those who’ve been tracking his career believe he can turn the fortnightly magazine company profitable if the investors he represents are not impatient and continue to invest. There are some though who believe he is playing with fire and a failure could cost him much as it has with big media aspirants in the past.

 

Clearly Businessworld needs to reinvent, and Anurag/Annurag Batra can bring in the energy to the enterprise. Good luck to him.

 

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2 responses to “Mediaah! by Pradyuman Maheshwari: The Rise and Rise of Anurag Batra”

  1. Preeti Hoon says:

    I too have worked with Anurag and he’s a powerhouse of energy and a person loads to learn from !!

  2. shail says:

    overall a good read. just that too much detailing on the educational background of people mentioned in the article was not required

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