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Indian short video app born after TikTok ban snaps $805M funding at $5B valuation

VerSe Innovation
VerSe Innovation

VerSe Innovation, the parent company of DailyHunt and a local language technology platform, has raised $805M in a Series J funding round led by global investors such as the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), Luxor Capital, Sumeru Ventures, and others.

Existing investors Sofina Group, Baillie Gifford, and others will participate in this round above their pro-rata, bringing VerSe Innovation’s valuation to $5B. This is one of the year’s largest single startup fundraises.

The startup, which has raised $1.5B in the last year alone and is backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Google, is now valued at $5B.

The $805M investment follows a $650M round led by Siguler Guff, Carlyle Group, Baillie Gifford, Falcon Edge Capital via Alpha Wave Ventures, Glade Brook Capital, Google, Microsoft, and Qatar Investment Authority, bringing the total capital raised in the last year to $1.5B.

The Josh app, developed by a Bangalore-based company, is dubbed “Instagram for Bharat,” referring to non-English-speaking India outside of its half-dozen affluent top cities. According to the company, Josh has 150M monthly active users, while Dailyhunt has 350M. The two apps’ content is almost entirely in Indian languages.

Fund Utilisation

The funds will go toward solidifying the company’s position as the country’s largest and fastest-growing AI-driven content platform for local languages. VerSe Innovation hired Avendus Capital as its sole financial advisor on the deal.

VerSe also plans to expand and deepen its AI/ML and data science capabilities to further cement its leadership position across all user, engagement, and retention metrics, drive deeper monetisation through influencers, ecommerce, and live streaming, and forays into Web 3.0 experiences across its local language creator base of over 50M creators and its local language content ecosystem, which sees over 80B video plays per month.

After TikTok and a slew of other Chinese-origin apps were banned in June 2020, India’s short video startups exploded. Josh and its competitors, such as Roposo and Moj, have seen record user numbers, engagement, and revenue since then. According to a report, ShareChat, the parent company of Moj, is in talks to raise $200M from investors including Temasek and Alphabet Inc’s Google at a $5B valuation.

“Within the next two or three years, VerSe will be profitable,” said Virendra Gupta, the company’s founder.

About VerSe Innovation

Founded in 2007 by Umang Bedi and Virendra Gupta, VerSe Innovation is a local language technology company that creates a media consumption and socialisation platform. Through its vertical search and recommendation tools, which provide users with personalised content and notifications, its platform facilitates content curation and tracks user preferences. It has raised total funding of $1.7B to date.

VerSe will use the funds to expand its artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities, as well as to improve user engagement and retention through data science. Influencer-led commerce and live commerce will also be used to boost revenue.

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