Fate. Serendipity. Luck. Watch or read any interview of Sameer and Venkat, the founders of Culture Machine, in which they recall the chain of events that, about four years back, put them on the path that eventually led them to their now successful digital venture, and you’ll hear at least two words that allude to a higher power. You’ll also spot many metaphors; they fleetingly called their venture a digital raft-turnedcanoe-turned-warship during this interview!
They describe themselves as a ‘digital media company for the internet generation’. Investors, we hear, call them the ‘web equivalent of a television network like Star’. Culture Machine has two main revenue streams – media and tech; that, in a way, is reflected in their name.
We at afaqs! began this calendar year with a mega-event called vdonxt asia, a masterclass on the business of online video. We concluded the two-day-long affair with a promise to keep a finger on the pulse of the booming online video industry. This interview with this affable and razor sharp duo – (I sourced these adjectives from the reporter who met them for this cover story) – is a step in the same direction – our effort, as a publication, to take note of the goings on in the digital space.
Among other things, we asked Sameer and Venkat about the online video consumption trends that they think are here to stay. They named live video, machineassisted content and artificial intelligence-based trends. Culture Machine owns five digital channels – Being Indian, Blush, Put Chutney, Viva, and Awesome Sauce India. The company has offices in Mumbai, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi, Singapore and California.
Starting this month, the company’s Tamil digital media brand Put Chutney, known for its comedy content, will foray into the linear television space, via Star Vijay. The big question Sameer and Venkat are asking themselves now is: Can we be bigger than the big media networks on TV?