Ajeeb.com diversifies its revenue base

Ajeeb.com is developing new revenue streams to avoid being over-reliant on online advertising, and says profitability may come as soon as the year's end.

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By  David Ingham Published  June 5, 2001

Ajeeb.com is building up new business lines as it seeks to move away from an over-reliance on online advertising. The company has already established a research unit and plans to begin offering a Web site localisation service soon.

Within a year, Abdul Kader Kamli, general manager and editor in chief, says that Ajeeb aims to have advertising make up just 40% of revenue. The new research and services businesses will each contribute 30% each.

“Online advertising won’t finance all the Web sites out there,” Kamli told ITP.net. “For this reason, we have to diversify — all of us [dot-com companies.]”

Nevertheless, Kamli insists that the move into new areas of business is not a reaction to a weak online advertising market, but is something that has been planned for some time.

He says that Al Alamiah Group, the owner of Ajeeb.com, has committed to funding the company until the end of 2002. “But, we realistically expect profitability by the end of 2001,” says Al Kamli.

Al Alamiah’s backing also means that seven month old Ajeeb has not had to start laying off employees or restructure in order to save cash. Longer established competitors, such as Arabia.com and Planetarabia, have been going through restructurings in order to reduce their cash burn rate.

However, Ajeeb.com must still grow revenues through its new business lines if it is to achieve its target of profitability by the end of 2001. Ajeeb Research Unit was established around two months ago and has so far published reports on Internet usage and the online advertising market. The unit will generate revenue through selling reports and sponsored research.

Ajeeb plans to start offering its Web site localisation service in the near future. Its offering will combine machine translation technology developed by sister company, Sakhr Software, and human translators.

This way, Ajeeb says it will be able to offer more rapid translation of English Web sites into Arabic. Customers will pay a one off fee for the initial translation followed by a monthly fee based on the quantity of ongoing translation work required.

As the company moves forward, it says it is considering the possibility of selling a stake to a venture capitalist. Kamli says, however, that the need is not urgent and a deal will only take place if it makes more than just financial sense. “We are not in a rush,” says Kamli.

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