VerSe Innovation, the parent company of latest content aggregator unicorn Dailyhunt and short video app Josh, has raised $100 Mn in a Series H funding round led by sovereign wealth fund Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) and Glade Brook Capital Partners. Canaan Valley Capital and existing investor Sofina Group also participated in this round.
With the latest fund infusion, the company has set more elaborate plans for Josh by augmenting the local language content offerings, development of tools for content creators and innovation in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML).
Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial advisor to VerSe Innovation on the transaction.
The announcement follows another $100 Mn funding round raised by Dailyhunt in December 2020 from Google, Microsoft and Falcon Edge’s Alpha Wave Incubation, making it India’s first tech unicorn focused around regional language or vernacular content. Existing investors Sofina Group and Lupa Systems had also participated in the round.
The company had announced at the time that it would use the funding to scale up Josh, its content creator ecosystem and improve the content discovery and recommendations engines.
Dailyhunt, which was founded by Umesh Kulkarni and Chandrashekhar Sohoni, started its journey as a news aggregator platform Newshunt in 2009. The app was acquired by jobs classifieds company VerSe Innovation in 2012, and was rebranded to Dailyhunt in 2015 to become vernacular language news and content aggregator.
It claims to source content from over 100K partners and individual creators in 14 languages and also claims to have 300 Mn+ users across web and apps. “This solid business foundation and capital infusion now sets the company on a path of rapid growth, as it explores building a family of apps and expanding across other international geographies to extend its broad-based tech platforms in serving similar unmet content needs of local language audiences globally,” the company said in a press note.
Dailyhunt launched Josh app in July last year, a week after India banned TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps. Since then, the app has since garnered more than 85 Mn monthly active users (MAU), 40 Mn daily active users (DAU) and more than 1.5 Bn video plays per day. The platform has more than top 200+ content creators, 15 Mn+ user-generated content creators and 10 music labels on board.
The short video app platform competes with dozens of other similar apps that emerged after the ban, including Mitron, Chingari, Trell, Bolo Indya, Sharechat’s Moj, Zee5’s HiPi, Gaana HotShots, MX Takatak, Instagram’s Reels and others. Last month, Moj announced that it has crossed 100 Mn downloads and has about 80 Mn MAUs.
MX TakaTak, Josh and Moj made it to the list of most downloaded apps on Google Play Store in the third quarter of 2020, riding solely on the back of Indian user base. While MX TakaTaka found itself on the 12th spot, Josh and Moj were just a step behind on the 13th and 14th spot.