It started as an April Fools joke. On April 1, 2010, PuneTech founder, Navin Kabra, decided to try a prank on the site’s readers. PuneTech had a “non-commercial” policy since its inception, and Pune’s nerd community has been proud about that policy, flocking to PuneTech, as if it were some hippie heaven, where fundaes, not love, is distributed freely. Not free as free beer. But free as free agents.
Navin’s post titled “Introducing Sponsored Saturdays — Paid Articles on PuneTech” sent shock-waves through the site’s core readership, some of whom even deleted the rss feeds right-away from their readers, even before a single comment appeared on the post.
Most readers, however, were less extreme in their condemnation of the ‘blatant commercialization’, and just changed the subscription tag from “independent/non-commercial/community” to “sold-out/corporate” or such. There ensued an interesting debate about commercialization/monetization vs community content/culture.
The most interesting development, however, occurred when not getting the joke, many companies started calling up the PuneTech owners for buying stake in PuneTech.
“I started getting phone calls from prospective buyers — outright, or for a minority stake — almost as soon as I pressed the publish button”, said Navin when contacted by KBNN. “So far, these people had stayed away from PuneTech because they thought it was just a bunch of techies high on hashish of community ownership. But the moment they saw PuneTech meant business, they are after us”
Did he tell them the truth?
“I said, what the hell. It was the best way to get an independent valuation of PuneTech, just in case”, said Navin, in his usual tongue-in-cheek style.
So how high did they go?
“I can’t disclose that”, he said smiling, “If I did, it would become impossible for me to walk anywhere and not be looked up as fool for not having sold it”
But, could it be, that the calls were pranks themselves?
“Bus kya?” asked Navin, as he hung up.
We are still looking for confirmation from KBNN sources about what was what. Stay tuned.