Chinese tech conglomerate Tencent is in talks to lead a funding round in Indian media startup Pocket FM. According to a report by TechCrunch, this investment in Pocket FM is expected to be valued at around 20-25 Mn. Apart from Tencent, Lightspeed India and Times Internet’s Brand Capital are also expected to participate in the round.
Prior to this round, Tencent also led an INR 41 Cr (about $5.61 Mn) funding round in the Gurugram based Pocket FM back in October, 2020. That round also saw participation from venture capital firm Lightspeed India and media house BCCL.
Founded by IIT-Kharagpur graduates Rohan Nayak, Prateek Dixit and Nishanth Srinivas, Pocket FM is an online marketplace for audiobooks and podcasts. The platform, as per its website, offers over 10,000 hours of audiobooks and podcasts, with both free and paid versions, in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali.
Apart from Pocket FM, Tencent has also invested in music streaming service Gaana and on-demand video streaming player MX Player.
Currently, the audio based streaming sector in India is booming. This is due to the rise of smartphone users during the pandemic, and rise in phone time, among other reasons. The sector is led by the growth of audio channels such as podcasts and music streaming platforms. Podcast streaming has seen the highest growth in the past few years.
For instance, a 2019 report by Deloitte found that globally, podcasts could be a $3.3 Bn+ business by 2025. According to KPMG, India is the third-largest podcast-listening market globally and is expected to be valued at INR 17.62 Cr by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 34.5%. As the popularity of the new content format is growing at a fast clip, major music-streaming platforms, from Spotify to JioSaavn to Gaana and more, are adding podcasts to their offerings. India’s podcast landscape comprises more than 40 multilingual podcast companies, including popular content startups such as Tencent-backed Pratilipi (20 Mn MAU), Fosun RZ-backed Headfone, IVM Podcasts and Suno India, among others.
Recently, regional language audio content platform Khabri raised $ 2.1 Mn in a Pre-Series A funding round led by Liquid 2 Ventures, Pioneer Fund, and Rebel Fund.
Update | 23rd August 2021, 3:50 PM
Earlier version of the story had an incorrect spelling of Tencent, the same has been updated.