Best Buddies 2017

Venkat Prasad and Sameer Pitalwalla

How The Culture Machine founders hit it off over their common passion for creating video channels

Soumik Kar

For an Indian millennial with an internet connection, Culture Machine’s work is hard to miss. From ‘Being Indian’ to ‘Put Chutney’, its channels are creating content for a generation that has replaced the quintessential Idiot Box with YouTube. Founded in 2013, by Sameer Pitalwalla and Venkat Prasad, Culture Machine’s website claims to have around 22 million subscribers with an average of half-a-billion views per month. The story began when Pitalwalla and Prasad met at VidCon, an annual event held in the US for those who love online video streaming. Few conversations and 72 hours later, the duo chalked out a plan to start Culture Machine. What sets the company apart is its strong investment in technology, resulting in multiple revenue streams. Its analysis software, Intelligence Machine, sifts through video data and trends to acquire a treasure trove of data for brands and creators telling them how well their content works. Their other product, the Video Machine, creates high impact videos at scale from audio and text. Pitalwalla and Prasad are similar to pieces of a jigsaw puzzle that fit perfectly. While Pitalwalla is from a business and media background (thanks to his stints at Disney, UTV and Times Internet), Prasad is a pure techie who has worked at Yahoo and Google. Pitalwalla is aggressive and hot-headed by his own admission, while Prasad is soft-spoken and thus, the calmer influence. They play the perfect foil for each other. Their partnership has solidified with time and the work Culture Machine does reflects on the same.