Two Mumbai-born siblings, Divyank and Bhavin Turakhia, joined the billionaire’s club when they sold their advertising technology startup to Chinese investors for $900 million. They grew up in the suburbs of Juhu and Andheri and turned web entrepreneurs in their teens, struck an all-cash deal to divest their company Media.net. They merge it with the China-listed Beijing Miteno Communication Technology (BMCT). This makes it one of the largest M&As globally in the ad tech industry, beating Google’s $750 million acquisition of AdMob and Twitter’s MoPub purchase for $350 million.
What’s noteworthy is that while most ad tech firms across the world are struggling, including Media.net’s home-grown rival Inmobi – which is backed by Softbank Corp – the Turakhia brothers have been able to pull off this transaction amid an overall slowing market.
The payout for the brothers from the deal may be staggered, people familiar with the details of the acquisition said.
This is not the first exit for the Turakhia brothers, who in 2014 sold Directi’s web services businesses like BigRock, LogicBoxes and Reseller Club, for $160 million to NASDAQ-listed Endurance International Group.
The younger Divyank, who runs Media.net, will continue to steer it post the buyout while Bhavin, 36, manages the Mumbai-headquartered Directi which now operates four startups in the web communications and payment systems space currently.
Founded six years ago, Media.net is based jointly in Dubai and New York, providing the technology backbone to contextual advertising offered by the likes of Yahoo and Microsoft. It clocked about $230 million in revenue last year.
The Media.net acquisition will be in two stages. In the first, BMCT chairman Zhang Zhiyong will lead a consortium of investors to buy Media.net, and in the second, the acquirers will reverse-merge with the Zhiyong’s publicly traded firm.
Divyank and Bhavin, whose’s father is a chartered accountant and mother a law graduate, attended Arya Vidya Mandir school in Bandra. Divyank graduated with BCom from Narsee Monjee and Bhavin from Sydenham college, but attending classes were never really their thing. “It was not required. You got distinction just by sitting for exams,” Divyank said reminiscing about the days when they mixed entrepreneurship with studies.
Till date, they’ve rolled out 11 startups under the Directi umbrella, having begun their entrepreneurship journey by helping Indian companies build websites and intranet services in the late 1990s.
A person who’s seen the brothers at close quarters says that despite their lack of an engineering degree, they are brilliant coders. “They’ve learned everything, including how to code, on their own,” he added.
Diyyan said, “Media.net gets 90% of its revenue from the US market and the remaining from Canada and UK. China is the second biggest online advertising market and the fastest growing. This deal gives us an opportunity to build a growth story there…There are structures built in the transaction which helps us get upsides on the China business we plan to build.Divyank, who is single like his brother, says he has two personal aircraft – a Cessna parked in Mumbai and a Cirrus SR22 in the US – and is passionate about flying and scuba diving.