Sunday, September 08, 2013

BookMyShow pulls off a David

Once upon a time in India, multiplex phenomenon was gaining pace. PVR was the front-runner and industry leader by a large margin. Bookmyshow started on the shoulders of PVR. They provided ticket booking platform for PVR customers. Then someone in PVR observed that bookmyshow is doing well. In a typical Indian way of thinking, PVR thought: "They are growing because of us, we can launch our own online bookings. Anyway we have sufficient cash in bank account to hire a bunch of web developers." So they started parallel development in copying and building a better platform than bookmyshow.
One fine day, when the development was complete they pulled the plug on bookmyshow. I can imagine that would have been a traumatic day for bookmyshow founders. They would have tried to explain the value they can bring and all that .... but obviously PVR have already decided. When that happened, I felt really sad. I felt sad because I knew bookmyshow will close down and I knew PVR is making a wrong decision. In a short career of 10 years, I've already seen this script repeatedly played out in Indian industry. Profitable companies have this idol in form of Reliance Industries, which did vertical integration from textile to doing everything. They think since they have money and right political connections they can be next Reliance. However they don't realize that time has changed. Knowledge economy has arrived and red-tape'ism has reduced a little. Anyway I shifted to PVR's online booking platform for booking.
However to my surprise, bookmyshow refused to get bogged down. They just kept going. They started putting efforts on theater, events, sports, single screen cinema etc. They did this smart thing of displaying PVR show timing on their platform, which was anyway publicly available. Needless to say that user experience at bookmyshow kept getting better and PVR kept getting worse. Then again, I knew what will happen. PVR will eventually realize that they are loosing money on this ticket booking business. However since they have made the investment their managers will keep justifying the whole activity. Then eventually those managers will switch jobs and new managers will come and scrap the whole thing. However they will not go to bookmyshow due to ego problems. They will go to some other group of developers to develop competition for bookmyshow.
Then to my surprise, I saw PVR shows could again be booked on bookmyshow. I was so happy for them. In my startup, I've also been struggling with same problem : Trying to convince Indian clients that we can do better job than their in-house engineering team and it makes more sense. I believe we can do it much better. Its a story of  David against Goliath. Felt elated.

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