NEW DELHI: VerSe Innovation, the company behind local language news platform Dailyhunt and short form video app Josh, has raised over $100 million (about Rs728 crore) in a Series H funding round led by global investors Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, and Glade Brook Capital Partners.
Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial advisor to VerSe Innovation on the transaction.
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In December, VerSe had raised $100 million from Google, Microsoft, and AlphaWave (unit of Falcon Edge Capital) to become India’s first tech unicorn for local languages.
Short form video app Josh remains the core focus area for the Bengaluru-based startup as it plans to put new funds in the ongoing efforts to scale up its local language content offerings, develop a content creator ecosystem and to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the app.
Local language support is one of the key highlights of Josh. It currently supports 12 Indian languages and dialects such as Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Bangla, Oriya, Punjabi and Bhojpuri.
Launched in September last year, Josh is one of the fastest growing short form video apps accounting for over 85 million monthly active users (MAU), 40 million daily active users and more than 1.5 billion video plays every day, according to the company. The only other local app with more users is Roposo which claims to have over 100 million MAUs. Among new apps which were launched after the TikTok ban, MX Taka Tak has over 70 million MAUs.
In December, Roposo’s parent company Glance Digital Experience Pvt. Ltd. had raised $145 million (about Rs1,056 crore) from Google and Mithril Capital.
The ban on ByteDance’s TikTok in India left a vacuum in the space and led to a scramble for the 200 million odd TikTok users in the country. The ban was made permanent last month by the Indian government, putting an end to any hopes of the hugely popular platform making a comeback to India.
This should open doors for brand endorsements to many of these homegrown short form video apps, which have seen huge growth in user base but are yet to achieve the same engagement levels as TikTok. As a result, many of the top brands have been sceptical about associating with them and their creators.
VerSe Innovation’s other property Dailyhunt is a local language news aggregator app with over 300 million users and content offering in 14 Indian languages.