ShareChat valued at $2bn in wake of TikTok ban

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Indian social media agency ShareChat has raised greater than half a billion {dollars} to develop its standard 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 buyers together with Tiger World Administration, Snap and Twitter, now has a valuation of $2.1bn. The ShareChat app has 160m month-to-month energetic customers, whereas Moj has amassed greater than 120m month-to-month energetic customers inside 9 months of its launch.

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

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

ShareChat, based mostly in Bangalore, gives its meme and video-sharing platforms in 15 regional Indian languages, however not in English, making it extraordinarily standard amongst Indian smartphone customers in smaller cities and cities, the place English shouldn’t be the popular language. Customers of each apps spend a median of greater than half-hour on them each day, in accordance with the corporate.

For US tech corporations, India represents a large progress alternative. Solely 40 per cent of the inhabitants had web connections in 2019, in accordance with McKinsey, and 86 per cent of these have been underneath the age of 40. By 2025, the variety of web customers is anticipated to exceed 970m, in accordance with Statista.

Ankush Sachdeva, chief government of ShareChat © ShareChat

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

“In the meantime, Moj is properly positioned to grab the chance offered by the expansion of brief video in India. We’re impressed with the staff’s understanding of those quickly evolving applied sciences and its capacity 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 prior to now yr 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 way of its content material advice know-how. The apps use machine-learning algorithms to floor tailor-made content material for particular person customers, based mostly on their tastes. “Machine studying is a really huge funding space for us. [We are] constructing that complete infrastructure and scaling our staff internationally,” Sachdeva stated.

The corporate has employed 5 administrators of synthetic intelligence in each the US and the UK prior 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 prior 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 prompted Chinese language funding deals to freeze, smoothing the way in which for US buyers seeking to increase past into the fertile Indian web market.

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

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