Somebody buy MouthShut already

If there’s one Indian site that has been executing exceptionally well since the Web 1.0 days, its undoubtedly MouthShut.com. Since inception, they’ve constantly innovated and evolved and over time, have amassed a huge,huge number of user generated reviews. Not to mention the strong community that has developed on the site. Never mind if they dont get as many blog mentions as some of the more newer startups.

So, why should someone buy MouthShut ?

As per a recent survey by Nielsen, 73% of Internet accessing Indians trust online user reviews over other means of advertising. That is more than advertising on TV, radio, magazines and search engine / online banner ads. Considering that MouthShut is the main (and probably only) consumer reviews site for the Indian subcontinent, you can only imagine how much influence it yields on the average, online, Indian user.

So, who should buy MouthShut ?

Amongst the international players, I’d say Yahoo, MSN, eBay and AOL. Yahoo has always been a proponent of community building, but considering the recent turmoil surrounding Yahoo, I’d say they have other things on their mind. MSN and AOL are both laggards when it comes to their Indian presence. Buying MouthShut would give them a good boost in terms of traffic, community and a decent competitive edge over Google and Yahoo. Of course, buying MouthShut would make the most sense for eBay, since MouthShut strategically fits very well into Shopping.com, the reviews site owned by eBay.

Amongst the home grown portals, I’d say HT Media should seriously consider it – they’ve been lagging the other Indian portals as far as their online strategy goes. Since they’re playing catch up, they might as well consider growing inorganically.

I’d love to hear what you have to say.

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23 comments

  1. I’m bit surprised by your mention of HT. Why not Indiatimes or Rediff or even NDTV ?
    HT’s recent purchase of Desimartini.com has created enough stir. I’m sure HT is not the right candidate to buy mothshut.

  2. I feel that most of the reviews at mouthshut are of negative quality as many try to vent their anger there when they receive a bad service from any of the products or service sector, this is clearly evident there.

  3. @gautam, the desimartini deal is not the reason why i suggested ht media.

    Rediff is already, probably the leader in the Indian portals. They’ve had a strong online presence for some time now (btw, have you read user comments on any rediff story) ..Ditto for Indiatimes….If any of these portal goes for MouthShut, it would bolster their online presence even more. Since HT is playing catch up, they need that extra boost — and hence i mentioned ht.

    But you’re right about NDTV. I unintentionally left them out – my bad.

  4. @rajesh,

    negative or positive – it doesnt matter – they have a gold mine in terms of the number of user submitted reviews.

    besides, most of the times, a consumer feels a strong urge to review a company / product only when they’ve had a -ve experience — think abt it. every time your cell phone works exceedingly well, you dont go write a +ve review about it.
    thats just human nature.

  5. Whatever u guys r talking about. There is a new site, http://www.kyayaar.com, posting real reviews by real people, catching up indian market now a days. The name is good. People handling this site do have nice experience. so will get in market. Because of its name, people do come on site, and write reviews here. thats just human nature.

  6. Pranav,

    The number 1 reason why Indian Media companies aren’t shopping for web businesses is that the potential value add is still unclear.

    A quick question – do you think Pehredar (IndiaTV) has greater awareness than Mouthshut?

    Don’t get me wrong, I really like the team behind Mouthshut and am an Internet Startup guy myself. I’m praying like everyone else that croudsourcing becomes a reality with greater Internet Penetration. I am also an optimist :-) .

    - Santosh

  7. Santosh,

    If thats the case, then I’d say they’ve got to wake up to the possibility.

    Before long, a new entrant will come in and force them to reconsider their web strategy – and may the value add will become much clear to them at that time. If only, it isnt too late by then.

  8. I don’t think Rediff can be called the leader in Indian portals. They only have Rediff.com, which is a popular news site. All their other ventures (Rediff Bol, Shopping, Jobs, Matrimonial etc) have been damp squibs. Even with Rediff.com, they were never able to innovate in terms of design, usability or adapting web 2.0 features.

    Let’s not comment about the standards of reporting and their infamous comments columns!

  9. @ramesh,

    the point of the post wasnt to highlight who is the leader in Indian portals.

  10. i will be hurt if mouthshut.com is bought by a bigger player since i use mouthshut and i want it to remain indepnednet.
    mouthshut will be killed by google/yahoo/msn if its bought.
    but i agree mouthshut has great influence in india/ atleast on me lol

  11. I share your opinion of MouthShut. It is to be lauded for consistently delivering a high-end Indian presence – something few have succeeded. I suspect the big American players are still too buys ironing out their issues here. But Mouthshut’s time will come. I think whowever buys it will be well-served.

  12. @rai ravi @raman — it would indeed be a crown jewel to anyone’s portfolio.

  13. mouthshut is very slow. can improve its speed. i use bsnl braodband 500 per month plan.

  14. This is a proxy blog posted by mouthshut as they are desperately seeking a buyer but I don’t think there is any taker for mouthshut as they have only but a bad reputation. They have a review factory and 50% of their reviews are fakes, they publish fake traffic figures, do click fraud for their advertisers, already Maruti left them as they caught mouthshut red handed doing click fraud (read the news in alootechie.net), they also delete genuine reviews and issue threats to genuine consumers. They are like mumbai mafias and that’s why after 8 long years they are not getting an investor who is interested. Because most of the figures published about mouthshut are fake!

  15. Your guys are all losers who are criticizing MS, MS rocks and will continue to rock because it pioneered the user generated content when no one knew about it. Check you the Alexa rank of mouthshut and I am sure you will stop blabbering, actually Faisal need not even care to respond to you crooks, he is far away from your reach guys, I don’t want to take names but check out your Alexa rank man before commenting on Mouthshut.

  16. mohit …you may be right , by calling the mouthshut team as fraud… coz i was just looking at their alexa ranking ( 2969 )… God… how did they manage it??? surprising ly they have 5% viewers from America….and 2% viewers from Pakistan….( GOD.. what are americans and pakistani doing with reviews of indian products….) I think it is these kinds of startups who have tarnished the image of internet startups….God help us!!!!!!!!!!

  17. @mohit, @abhishek. looks like you guys have some vendetta against mouthshut? has your brand been affected by negative reviews? lol.

    @mohit, alexa ranking is independent of mouthshut. and just to let you know yes people in US and pakistan do read product reviews which are global in nature such as indian movies, electronic products which are available in most markets.

    @abhishek lol i found it funny the way you claim these startups tarnish the image of internet startups? can u elaborate more. mouthshut’s been around 8 years. pretty impressive startup if it sustained so long. haha. anyway folks chillout and concentrate on your own startups.

    i am working on my photo sharing startup which will announced in december!

  18. to call mouthshut fake is akin to calling this blog a fake. this blog startup dunia is not influenced by anybody. why would it be a proxy for mouthshut. funny. and guys give some concrete points when you claim that mouthshut is desperate for funds?@mohit you seem to be a VC?

  19. Mouthshut doesn’t respect it’s users. I had written a critical but very polite review on mouthshut itself on mouthshut.com. It was a very polite and professional review without any hint of abuse and yet they deleted all my reviews and deleted/ disabled my mouthshut id. My id was francis_ouseph. I knew anand renake, grimm reaper, jithin sarath, m karthikeyan, anzaan, kewl debs, xerses pasha and many others on mouthshut. Same thing happened to one of my friends because he complained about seeing Faisal Farooqui (CEO of mouthshut) in his trust list without his permission. Instead of getting an answer mouthshut disabled his login.

    Internet sites respect your privacy and your difference of opinion and are quite democratic in nature. Censorship is only used to reigbn in Rogue or abusive members. But Mouthshut runs it’s website like the Chinese government. But mouthshut censors each review and member mails like the ones in a banana republic. I have seen crap reviews rated as very useful by equally ignorant members. Just check out some “very useful” reviews on Operating Systems if you dont believe me. Some of my reviews were marked as very useful by others had been deleted . I have posted them on my personal blog instead e.g. http://fraka-bike-honda-unicorn-sports.blogspot.com/ has my review of my bike.

    Look at the quality of reviews on product specific sites like teambhp and compare them with the uninformed and biased reviews on mouthshut. An organisation which cannot digest a fair review about itself cannot do justice to consumers. Instead even many of the star writers write reviews which are no better than poop. Mouthshut is a fraud that had been allowed to propogate on the web partly because of the silence of people who have known the truth. Their MS Points are an incentive for people to write reviews/rate reviews and comments compulsively in order to get more points. If mouthshut isn’t passionate about the very reason they started their site, they shouldn’t be in this business.

    Some people had started an online petition against mouthshut some time back.
    See http://www.petitiononline.com/banms201/petition.html
    Expecting to mouthshut proxies howl

  20. Here is more. This person posted a genuine review on TATA Indicom broadband and faced the consequences.

    http://sushubh.net/1988-mouthshut

    Obvivously someone from the Service Providers side greased Mouthshut to keep critical reviews on it’s own products under check. Haji baba you can continur lying on behalf of mouthshut.

  21. There is a better web site to review and rate doctors and hospitals in India:

    http://forum.desifitness.com/viewforum.php?f=67