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Sequoia was a relatively smaller shareholder in JustDial at the beginning of the partnership. JustDial was about to price the IPO in 2012 and the market was soft due to Facebook’s recent IPO.

VSS Mani and Shailendra tell you the story of how JustDial navigated this period.

VSS Mani
JustDial

Our plans to go public were dated much earlier; we wanted to go public since 2007. We waited for certain factors to fall in place, and it wasn’t until 2012 that we actually embarked upon a roadshow. However, as luck could have it, our timing still wasn’t great. On the last day of our roadshow, Facebook’s cautionary IPO happened, and all the expectation that the industry was entering the next phase of the boom came to a screeching halt. We knew we had a great business at hand and had to avoid our IPO turning into an overhyped debacle like some other technology companies.

Shailendra Singh
Sequoia

The JustDial IPO roadshow happened right after the Facebook IPO, which was perhaps the most anticipated tech IPO of that cycle. In the weeks following the IPO, the Facebook stock was trading significantly below issue price and had given investors reason to pause. That specific timing resulted in investors asking lots of skeptical questions of Mani and team during their roadshow.

VSS Mani

The bankers didn’t have the courage to go public at such a juncture. We were feeling low and a bit demoralized when I got a call from Shailendra.

Shailendra Singh

I called Mani to ask: “You were going to raise around 300 crores in the IPO. What if Sequoia gives you that?”

VSS Mani

For a moment, I didn’t get what he was saying. We were talking about an amount to the tune of Rs. 320 crores. I reiterated the same to him, “You want to propose that Sequoia takes on the entire primary offering for the public?” He said, “Yes, that’s what I meant.”

Shailendra Singh

The roadshow and pricing discussions had happened. The IPO was set to launch in ten days. The company was in the quiet period. Few days later, Sequoia made them an offer and the term sheet was signed. The IPO was withdrawn and an inside round was closed instead. It happened that fast.

VSS Mani

For us, it was a lucrative liquidity-creating alternative to going public. And in hindsight, it was a terrific investment decision for Sequoia.

Shailendra Singh

The offer came at a crucial juncture for the company. It allowed the company to avoid going public and to signal to the market that the price band it was being offered was not good enough. Sequoia wrote its largest cheque in India at that point.

VSS Mani

Shailendra had so much faith in the product and the team that he didn’t hesitate to make the move. Our inability to list was a huge letdown for us but it turned out to be a great opportunity for Sequoia.

Shailendra Singh

This was a great company with a highly defensible model and Sequoia was willing to step up and enable the company to remain private for longer. A very successful IPO followed the next year.

VSS Mani

‘The entrepreneur behind the entrepreneurs’ – there cannot be a better description for Sequoia. In our interactions with Sequoia at every level, there has always been deep involvement and engagement. In today’s age of chasing multi-bagger returns, that’s what truly sets them apart.

JustDial
JustDial is India's leading local search engine.
Milestones
  • Founded 1993
  • Partnered 2009
  • Acquired 2014
Founders
  • V.S.S. Mani
Investment Advisors