After pocketing InstaLively, Hike Messenger today announced the acquisition of Bengaluru-based technology startup Creo. Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike had earlier invested in Creo in its angel round.
Creo was founded in December 2013 by Sai Srinivas Kiran G and Shubham Malhotra; Creo was formerly known as Mango Man Consumer Electronics Pvt. Ltd. Its first product offering, Teewe – an HDMI media-streaming device was launched in September 2014. Currently, the Creo team constitutes over 50+ members. In his previous stints, Sai Srinivas has worked at Zynga and Bharti Softbank.
Creo had last raised funds in January 2016, when it secured $3 Mn funding from Sequoia India, Beenext Ventures, and India Quotient. Prior to that, in March 2015, the company had raised $1.75 Mn in Seed funding from Sequoia Capital and India Quotient Fund. And prior to the Seed funding, Creo’s parent company had raised angel investments from Palaash Ventures, Kavin Bharti Mittal, Pavan Ongole of Bharti SoftBank and former Chairman of Alcatel Lucent India Arun Seth.
Last year in April, Creo had launched a smartphone, Mark 1. But by October 2016, it scrapped these phone making plans. It shifted focus entirely to building its operating system, Fuel OS. At the time, Srinivas told Tech In Asia that ditching the plan was intended not to take on big rivals in the smartphone industry, but to showcase the OS it was powered by.
He said, “The idea was to build an always evolving OS with new features every month and take this experience to as many people as possible. Right from the start, the plan was to partner with other phone makers in the market. Very soon, you’ll hear about our partnerships in this regard.”
However, even though no news of partnerships surfaced in the interim, the startup has now been acquired.
What The Creo Acquisition Means For Hike Wallet
According to the Hike spokesperson, “The Creo team will begin work on a developer platform to enable third-party developers to build services on the Hike platform.”
Hike has been on a path of innovation. It is following the trajectory of its investor Tencent. Inspired by WeChat Pay, the company launched a UPI-enabled digital wallet – Hike Wallet – in June 2017. When it launched its Hike Wallet, the company said it was aiming to turn money into a social currency. Seems it is giving up on its social currency dream after all. Kavin Bharti Mittal is now looking to capitalise on Hike Wallet. The Hike spokesperson’s statement talks about a platform to let third-party developers build services. This can mean that Hike is currently looking to integrate Hike Wallet with other applications too. For example, the Paytm wallet can be used to pay at multiple websites like Uber, Nykaa etc.
The Hike Messenger Story
Launched in December 2012, Hike currently boasts of 100 Mn users and claims to transact over 40 Bn messages per month. Interestingly, Kavin Bharti Mittal has been quoting the same number of its user base (100 Mn) since January 2016, indicating no growth in its numbers to-date.
The company also claims that, on an average, a user spends 28 minutes per day on the app. It also said that almost 90% of its users are in the age group 15-24.
Hike Messenger is also a part of the Indian Unicorn club. Its investors include Tencent, Foxconn, Tiger Global, Softbank and Bharti. Till date, it has raised over $260 Mn in five rounds of funding. The most recent fund infusion came in August 2016 when Hike Messenger raised $175 Mn in Series D round of funding, at a valuation of $1.4 Bn. The investment was led by Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group. Existing investors Tiger Global, SoftBank Group and Bharti Enterprises also participated in this round.
As per data available with CrunchBase, its investors also include Aditya Agarwal (VP of Engineering at Dropbox), Matt Mullenweg (WordPress co-founder), Ruchi Sanghvi (VP of Operations at Dropbox) and Traveon Rogers.
Earlier in June 2017, Hike had acquired InstaLively Livestreaming Pvt. Ltd, the company behind hyperlocal social networking app Pulse. Post-acquisition, the InstaLively co-founders have joined Hike Messenger. While the addition of the millennial-dominated platform Pulse App by InstaLively may bring a positive shift in its user-base. It is interesting to see what the coming has in store for the Creo team.
At the time of launch, in an interaction with the media, Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike Wallet said that the startup constantly looks for inspiration from Tencent and looks to adapt to it as well. Tencent’s WeChatPay provides multiple payments options and boasts of a user-base far ahead of its Indian counterparts. As per an official statement, WeChat Pay had more than 600 Mn monthly active user accounts in China at the end of December 2016.
He also did not deny the possibility of integrating an ecommerce marketplace along with the wallet. Given the inspiration it apparently draws from Tencent, it won’t be a surprise if, after Creo acquisition, Hike launches an ecommerce marketplace too.