Samir Bangara exhibited fearless energy in helping a group of idealists pursue our unusual quest to channel rigorous, quality journalism into a platform agnostic business, at a time when global media was in the grip of severe crisis, crushed between new technologies that were difficult to monetise and authoritarians who spent lavishly on their mouthpieces.
His commitment to support quality in journalism, writing and research, his intellectual honesty were fuel to his vision. He became an effective mentor and transformed individuals and entities without making much of a noise about it.
Samir started his career in venture capital with IL&FS Venture Corporation, but soon became an investment banker focused on the tech space with Ernst & Young. He was a Vice President in the M&A team, focussing on the IT services and wireless sector.
In 2005 he joined Indiagames, then India’s biggest gaming company, where he was already involved with seed funding, driving strategy, operations and business, scaling up gross sales from about $3m to $60m by 2012. Along the way the company pivoted a few times, coming under the UTV group in 2007. In October 2012 Indiagames was sold to The Walt Disney Company, & Samir became the Digital lead for the Disney group in India as Managing Director - Digital, with the responsibility of integrating and growing the businesses of Indiagames, Disney Interactive and UTV Interactive.
“In December 2012 I decided to move on from Disney and spend time angel investing while looking for the next venture that would consume me. In my new-found free time I also invested heavily in my passion for motorcycling and refused treatment for technoholism,” Samir would later recall.
“Serendipity struck in mid-2013 when I met Shekhar Kapur and AR Rahman and ended up co-founding Qyuki,” Samir would recall. He joined Qyuki Digital Media in 2013 and played a key role in unlocking the untapped creative potential across India, plucking unknown singers and performers from shanties and apartment complexes and putting them on the global stage.
Under Samir’s leadership, Qyuki managed and cultivated a new generation of superstars. Notable amongst Samir’s many pioneering projects at Qyuki were The Dharavi Dream Project (Asia’s first hip-hop afterschool, co-founded by Qyuki and Universal Music India), digital reality show ARRived (the first Indian YouTube Original) and all-India talent hunt Nexa Music (that highlighted musicians from India’s flourishing independent scene).
In recent years, Samir also spearheaded #HaqSeHipHop (with Rolling Stone India; a multi-platform venture to spotlight India’s hip-hop boom by giving back to the music ecosystem) as well as the Epic Fam Jam (a first-of-its-kind festival that celebrated India’s rising social media superstars).
“You can never be a pioneer if you wait and watch,” Samir would tell those who sought his advice. At Confluence Media we are guided by those sentiments.
By Josy Joseph