ShareChat said on Thursday it had raised a new round of funding that valued it at more than $ 2 billion, joining four other local startups to achieve unicorn status this week.
The Indian social network said it raised $ 502 million in a new round of funding – Series E – led by Tiger Global, which valued ShareChat at $ 2.1 billion, compared to around $ 650 million the last year. Snap and existing investors Twitter and Lightspeed Venture Partners also participated in the round, said ShareChat, which has raised around $ 765 million to date.
The six-year-old start-up began engaging with investors for new funds around 10 months ago and explored a full buyout deal with Twitter, which did not materialize, TechCrunch reported earlier. .
ShareChat, which claims to have over 160 million users, offers its social networking app in 15 Indian languages and has a large following in small Indian towns, or what venture capitalist Sajith Pai of Blume Ventures calls “India 2 “. Very few actors in the Indian startup ecosystem have a reach on this segment of this population which, thanks to users in even smaller towns and villages – called “India 3” – has grown in recent years.
Last year, the Bangalore-based startup launched Moj – a short-form video app that it says has already garnered more than 80 million monthly active users – to fill the void left after New Delhi banned TikTok, which previously counted India as its largest international market. to be blocked. Snap signed an agreement with ShareChat to integrate its camera kit into India’s short videos app earlier this year. (Thursday’s deal is Snap’s first investment in an Indian startup.)
Moj competes with a handful of players, including Times Internet’s MX TakaTak, which currently dominates the market with over 100 million monthly active users, and Glance’s Roposo and DailyHunt’s Josh – both of whom have received funding. from Google at the end of last year. The search giant was also in talks to invest in ShareChat late last year, TechCrunch reported earlier.
“When we saw a big void emerge on June 29 with many short video apps coming out of the market – we knew this opportunity was right for us. There were millions of short video creators already trained to create this content offering. So the real game was to create the most relevant feed for the user and we were the only Indian company to have built a world class feed recommendation system for abridged content, ”wrote Ankush Sachdeva, co-founder and chief. ShareChat executive in a blog post. “We created the app in 30 hours. It was increased to 120 million AMU in 9 months. “
ShareChat, which started life on Facebook and WhatsApp groups, has started experimenting with monetization in recent years. On its app, for example, ShareChat allows commerce platforms to interact with customers through its audio chat rooms. It also quietly launched a fantastic sports app called Jeet at the start of last year, as TechCrunch first reported.
“We are at an important inflection point in our business journey – as internet penetration deepens further in India, we are well positioned to expand our product ecosystem to a cumulative billion + MAU. We have seen the scale of the short video market in China – with around 80% of the entire internet population using one of the short video products (Douyin, Kuaishou, etc.) on a daily basis, ”wrote Sachdeva.
ShareChat is the ninth Indian startup to become a unicorn this year – and the fifth this week. Social commerce Meesho went unicorn on Monday, fintech CRED on Tuesday, and e-pharmacy company PharmEasy and Groww on Thursday.