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Indian short-video platforms score funding from global investors

Google has invested in VerSe innovation and Glance InMobi.

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KOLKATA: When one door closes, another opens. The ban on TikTok resulted in a wellspring of similar short video format platforms which became home to India’s considerable content creation community. Josh and Roposo are among these homegrown video sharing apps which rode the vocal for local wave and expanded their market shares post the government cracking the whip on Chinese apps. They quickly racked up several million downloads and an active user base within days of launch. Now, their growth trajectory has piqued the interest of top-notch global investors.

TikTok copycat Josh’s parent company Bengaluru-based VerSe Innovation has raised nearly Rs 740 crore ($100 million) from investors like Google, Microsoft, AlphaWave. VerSe Innovation is valued at more than around Rs 7,400 crore ($ 1 billion) following the investment. Additionally, Roposo’s parent company Glance InMobi has just concluded a Rs 1,070 crore ($145 million) investment round from Google and Mithril Capital.

Google is optimistic that the investments in leading Indian start-ups will enable them to further scale the availability of relevant and engaging content in different formats across various Indic languages.

“We’re also eager to support the wider ecosystem in India, particularly local startups innovating in this space. When we shared details of the India Digitization Fund in July this year, we identified enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it’s Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati, and more as a key pillar in order to drive forward India’s digitisation,” Google said in a blogpost.

VerSe Innovation has joined India’s unicorn club on the back of this latest round of funding, which will be deployed towards the augmentation of local language content offerings, the development of content creator ecosystem, and innovation in AI and ML along with focusing on Josh. The app currently has more than 77 million monthly active users and 36 million daily active users and plays over 1.5 billion videos per day.

On the other hand, Glance will use the new investment to deepen its AI capability across Glance and Roposo, expand its technology team, and launch services on the platform. The app has more than 33 million monthly active users and has been downloaded more than 100 million times on Google Play Store.

Back in September, ShareChat (behind the short video format app Moj) also raised roughly Rs 300 crores ($40 million) from investors including Twitter Inc and Lightspeed Ventures. According to a recent report, short-form videos have emerged as the fastest-growing content category in India with 180 million users in the financial year 2020.

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