ShareChat valued at $2bn  after India’s TikTok ban

Indian social media agency ShareChat has raised greater than half a billion {dollars} to develop its widespread short-video app Moj, simply months after the Indian authorities banned ByteDance-owned rival TikTok from the nation.

The five-year-old firm, which has raised $502m from traders together with Tiger International Administration, Snap and Twitter, now has a valuation of $2.1bn. The ShareChat app has 160m month-to-month lively customers, whereas Moj has amassed greater than 120m month-to-month lively customers inside 9 months of its launch.

The Indian authorities’s ban of greater than 200 Chinese apps late final 12 months following a border dispute was a “macro occasion . . . and we did profit from that,” stated Ankush Sachdeva, chief govt of ShareChat, which additionally counts Shunwei Capital, launched by the founders of Chinese language cell phone maker Xiaomi, amongst its traders.

“ShareChat grew multifold submit that ban . . .[and] we additionally took benefit of the short-video vacuum and launched Moj,” he added.

ShareChat, primarily based in Bangalore, presents its meme and video-sharing platforms in 15 regional Indian languages, however not in English, making it extraordinarily widespread amongst Indian smartphone customers in smaller cities and cities, the place English will not be the popular language. Customers of each apps spend a median of greater than half-hour on them on daily basis, in line with the corporate.

For US tech firms, India represents an enormous progress alternative. Solely 40 per cent of the inhabitants had web connections in 2019, in line with McKinsey, and 86 per cent of these had been beneath the age of 40. By 2025, the variety of web customers is predicted to exceed 970m, in line with Statista.

Ankush Sachdeva, chief govt of ShareChat © ShareChat

“As web penetration will increase in semiurban and rural economies, ShareChat’s . . . platform is poised to develop dramatically by bridging into on-line purchases of products and companies,” stated Scott Shleifer, accomplice at Tiger International Administration, which invested within the firm’s newest Sequence E spherical.

“In the meantime, Moj is nicely positioned to grab the chance offered by the expansion of quick video in India. We’re impressed with the group’s understanding of those quickly evolving applied sciences and its potential to execute rapidly,” he added.

Within the vacuum left by TikTok, Indian customers have been supplied a dizzying array of choices for short-video leisure. Apps which have sprung up up to now 12 months embrace Josh, TakaTak, Roposo, Mitron, and Chingari. Google and Microsoft have each lately invested within the mum or dad firm of Josh, whereas Google additionally led a $145m funding into the agency behind Roposo.

ShareChat claims to set itself aside by means of its content material suggestion expertise. The apps use machine-learning algorithms to floor tailor-made content material for particular person customers, primarily based on their tastes. “Machine studying is a really huge funding space for us. [We are] constructing that complete infrastructure and scaling our group internationally,” Sachdeva stated.

The corporate has employed 5 administrators of synthetic intelligence in each the US and the UK up to now six months, and doubled its workforce within the second half of 2020, together with 50 AI engineers.

Competitors between US and Chinese language tech giants for the Indian market has intensified up to now few years, spurring multibillion-dollar bets within the nation’s start-ups. Following a bloody border conflict between Indian and Chinese language troopers in June 2020, animosity from the Indian authorities has brought on Chinese language funding deals to freeze, smoothing the way in which for US traders trying to develop past into the fertile Indian web market.

Previously week alone, two different start-ups — social commerce app Meesho, and fintech Cred — have raised cash at a valuation above $2bn from US traders together with Fb and Tiger International respectively.

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