Tiger Global invests $10 million in online videos creator The Viral Fever

Tiger Global has picked up close to 25% stake in Contagious Online Media Network, valuing it at around Rs270 crore


A file photo of TVF co-founder Biswapati Sarkar. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint
A file photo of TVF co-founder Biswapati Sarkar. Photo: Aniruddha Chowdhury/Mint

Mumbai: Tiger Global Management Llc has invested $10 million (Rs.65.6 crore) in popular online video content creator ‘The Viral Fever’ (TVF), picking up a significant minority stake in the firm, according to filings made by the company with the registrar of companies (RoC).

The investment was made in Contagious Online Media Network Pvt. Ltd, which was incorporated in July last year. According to the documents, Tiger Global has picked up close to 25% stake in the firm valuing it at around Rs.270 crore.

The firm’s filings with the RoC show that for the period from 3 August to 21 October, Contagious Online Media reported a revenue of Rs.64 lakh and a profit of Rs.22 lakh.

The Viral Fever was set up by IIT graduate Arunabh Kumar in 2010. He was later joined by Amit Golani and Biswapati Sarkar.

TVF is popular for producing online videos targeting the youth. The group is known for its comedy videos such as Qtiyapa; Barely Speaking with Arnub—a satirical take on Times Now’s Arnab Goswami and its original online series such as TVF Pitchers and Permanent Roommates.

In an email response, Tiger Global declined to comment on the development, while emails sent on Tuesday to TVF founders Arunabh Kumar and Biswapati Sarkar did not elicit a response till the time of going to press.

In the recent years, the trend of creating online video content, especially in the comedy genre, has picked up significantly with the emergence of several groups such as All India Bakchod, East India Comedy and several stand-up comics.

These content creators are not just doing it for the laughs. There is serious money to be earned through platforms such as YouTube. According to a report by US magazine Forbes in October, the 10 top earning content creators on YouTube for 2014 and 2015 earned a grand total of $54 million.

For Tiger Global, this is the second investment in the online video content space. In 2015, Tiger, along with venture capital fund Zodius Capital, invested $18 million in Culture Machine, which runs the Being Indian and several other YouTube channels. The firm helps artists create, promote and monetize their videos on YouTube and other platforms.

The American investor has stakes in close to 50 companies of varying sizes across the country, mostly in the consumer Internet sector. It has invested an estimated $2 billion-plus into these companies, earning it the distinction of being the largest and most active start-up investor here over the last decade.

However, in the last couple of the American investment firm has gone slow on investing in India.

On 12 February, Mint reported that more than half the companies in its portfolio have been told that it will not participate in future funding rounds even on a pro-rata basis. In instances where it does participate in future rounds, it will not take the lead on deals as has been the norm in the past.

This has resulted in a significant churn in its portfolio with several of its portfolio firms becoming acquisition targets. In some cases they have been acquired by firms which are also funded by Tiger Global.

In January, Bengaluru-based property search platform Commonfloor was snapped up by online classifieds platform Quikr in a stock-swap deal. Tiger Global is an investor in both companies. Last week, another Tiger’s investee firm Zo Rooms got acquired by its larger rival OYO Rooms.

Tiger Global counts unicorns such as Flipkart, Quikr and Ola as its portfolio firms.

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