After delivering perhaps one of the best financial results the company’s ever had, Twitter is now looking at regional expansion. And the first big news of that expansion drive is coming from the world’s fastest growing Internet/smartphone/digital market — India.
According to a report published by the Economic Times, Twitter plans to invest more than $50 million in Indian language social networking app ShareChat. This will be a [art of the large $100Mn round that the regional language social networking app is looking to raise
ShareChat has been competing with China’s ByteDance for market share and user engagement and is expected to be valued at $600-650 million in the new round. Twitter is reportedly looking to sign a $50Mn check, with the rest coming in from ShareChat’s existing backers — Xiaomi, Shunwei Capital and Morningside Ventures. Hong Kong based HillHouse Capital is also on board for this latest round.
The importance of this expansion (and thus this deal), can be gauged from the fact that Twitter’s co-founder Jack Dorsey has direct involvement in the deal. The investment could aid Twitter leverage ShareChat’s reach in India to make inroads into India’s Tier II/III cities.
“Twitter never makes a minority investment of this kind; it is usually an acquisition,” said an investor. “This is very significant for Share-Chat, looking at how Chinese players, especially ByteDance, have been able to wean away users onto their platforms.”
In all, ShareChat has raised an investment in the vicinity of $120 million till date. This round from Twitter comes in at a time, when ShareChat’s talks with Tencent for a similar investment, fell through twice in a span of one year.
Founded by Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Singh and Farid Ahsan, is in a league of similar regional content startups, which have grown rapidly in India over the past few years. These startups are tapping in the next 100 million Internet users in India.
Facebook currently dominates the Indian social media space with more than 240 million active users. And then there are Whatsapp and Instagram, both dominant players in the social media scene, and both owned by Facebook. China’s ByteDance too has made serious in roads, with its apps like Tiktok and messaging platform Helo going viral in the country. TikTok was recently banned by court orders.
If the acquisition does go through, there are high possibilities of ShareChat getting integrated to Twitter, in a manner similar to that of Periscope. While the investment made by the twitter is financial in nature, it may look to leverage ShareChat’s reach to go beyond its 30-35 million monthly active user base in India.
Sharechat’s regulatory filings show no revenue for the financial year ended March 31, 2018. The company’s income from other sources was Rs. 1.7 crore and a loss of Rs. 34 crore as per the reports by Mohalla Tech, which owns ShareChat. In September last year, ShareChat was valued at Rs. 3489 crore and raised Rs 720 crore, its filings show.
Summer Intern under The Tech Portal’s Fall Summer 2019 Internship program.