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Norwest Venture partners invests $10 million in Web 2.0 Sulekha.com

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MUMBAI: Sulekha.com, the online social media and local commerce destination for Indians,has announced Promod Haque's global technology venture capital firm, Norwest Venture Partners (NVP)'s series A, investment of $10 million in the company.

Sulekha.com plans to use the new capital to extend business development and marketing, primarily through alliances, and expand its service offerings into new vertical markets. NVP managing partner Promod Haque, has joined the Sulekha board of directors. Sulekha, founded and run by Satya Prabhakar, received prior funding from the Indigo Monsoon Group (IMG), led by Param Parameswaran and Harish Raghavan. IMG invests in early stage companies in the Indian Internet and Mobile domains.

"Sulekha has been a Web 2.0 company even during the Web 1.0 days. It has positioned itself at the vortex of three of the largest Internet mega-trends: India, Social Media and Local Commerce through industry-leading services including Blogs, Social Networks, Classifieds and Yellow Pages. While the management of Sulekha has done a great job of developing reach and revenue, the real explosive potential, both in online and mobile platforms, is still in front of us," said Haque.

"NVP is one of the most reputed venture capital firms in the world with more than 45 years of experience in building successful companies. This, coupled with NVP's strong interest, many investments and relationships across various industries in India, made NVP a great choice for Sulekha as we pursue aggressive growth plans in the coming year," said, Sulekha.com founder and CEO Satya Prabhakar. "In particular, we look forward to working with Promod Haque who, with his valuable experience and vast global network, has helped numerous companies, both in U.S. and India, soar and succeed," he added.

"The marriage of trusted member to member interactions and its application to classifieds and business search/ratings holds incredible promise in spurring local commerce in India. Sulekha's successful track record of aggregating member content and interactions by city and by vertical areas of interest will allow us to deploy the new capital to dominate this market niche," said IMG and Sulekha.com Chairman Param Parameswaran.

Sulekha's Portfolio of Services - Interact and Transact
By offering a user-generated platform and a trusted community network, Sulekha enables Indians to interact and transact with their peers and businesses through three popular services:

Blogs and Social Networking - Sulekha provides the largest and most popular platform for Indians to voice their ideas, opinions and reviews in blogs. Users can also connect with other Indians creating online social networks. Just as social networking driven by expression has become a destination for US consumers, Sulekha brings the same experience to India and beyond.

Sulekha has crafted successful offline partnerships with such companies as Penguin, DNA and Indian Express to create important additional distribution avenues for its tens of thousands of bloggers.

Classifieds - Sulekha has the largest and most popular Indian classifieds marketplace for goods and services that fosters transactive relationships among its members in over 25 cities worldwide daily. With more than 250,000 ads and addressing 80% of online Indians worldwide, Sulekha provides unparalleled opportunities to connect members when they need to interact and transact.

Yellow Pages - Sulekha.com is the provider of online yellow pages in India supporting millions of business searches every month. Sulekha leverages its vast audience to help local businesses reach customers on a daily basis, and includes user-contributed reviews, ratings and recommendations to enable consumers to make the most informed purchasing decisions. Sulekha's yellow pages currently offer business listings in eight cities throughout India and US. Sulekha Yellow Pages is also integrated with WAP-enabled mobile phones for mobile downloads of listings.

"While we are only recently witnessing tremendous interest in Web 2.0 startups worldwide, Sulekha has been a thought leader in this space for some time, and continues to make rapid strides. Sulekha's strong and experienced management team is well-positioned to capitalize on the unprecedented Internet growth in India over the last year, and we believe the company has a first mover advantage in pursuing significant revenue-generating opportunities in the coming years," added Haque.

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