Digital media platform Dailyhunt and short video app Josh’s parent company VerSe Innovation has raised over $450 Mn in a Series I funding round led by Siguler Guff, Baillie Gifford and Carlyle Asia Partners and others.
Existing investors Sofina Group, Qatar Investment Authority and BCap also participated in the round, which was advised by Avendus Capital. It brings the post-money valuation of the company to over than doubling its valuation from its unicorn round, which concluded in February earlier this year. The company had raised a total of $200 Mn from Falcon Edge Capital, Alpha Wave Ventures, Glade Brook Capital Partners, Google, Microsoft and QIA between December and February 2021 in its Series H round.
VerSe Innovation’s valuation is close to $3 Bn after this round, according to a source involved in the deal, who did not wish to be named.
The latest investment will be focused on strengthening market position through marketing and more, deepening and broadening Dailyhunt and Josh’s artificial intelligence, machine learning and data science capabilities, as well as improving monetization including ecommerce and live streaming. It will also look to expand overseas to markets with a similar consumption appetite as India. Besides this, VerSe will be aggressive on acquisitions, according to our source.
Founded by Virendra Gupta in 2007, VerSe Innovation, a B2B company, catered to telcos and mostly provided SMS alerts on jobs, property, matrimony, news and education subscribers across India, Bangladesh and Africa. It decided to enter the B2C game in 2011 when it acquired Eterno Infotech, founded by Umesh Kulkarni and Chandrashekhar Sohoni. Eterno Infotech launched Newshunt in 2009, which was rebranded as Dailyhunt in 2015.
According to a RedSeer Management Consulting report, India’s short video market is estimated to grow by 4x on the total time spent and reach 400-450 Bn minutes a month in the next five years (2020-2025) from the current 110 Bn minutes.
The ban on TikTok last year triggered a wave of new Indian short video apps, which saw huge traction, Besides Josh, which was launched in July 2020, Sharechat, Chingari and InMobi’s Roposo, MX TakaTak also came up to bridge the demand gap.
VerSe claims to have over 50 Mn creators with over 80 Bn video plays per month. It said that Josh has over 115 Mn monthly active users (MAU) and more than 56 Mn daily active users, which it claims is the best DAU/MAU ratio in the industry. Through Dailyhunt, the company claims to serve over 300 Mn users every month in 14 languages, where content from over 100,000 content partners and individual content creators is showcased.
In March this year, VerSe acquired Vebbler, which is an interest-based photo and video sharing app. Vebbler was founded in 2013 by Sahil Bhagat as a visual-first social network for meaning full conversation. The Dailyhunt parent said Vebbler’s camera and creation tools will give Josh a powerful differentiator in the market