Bengaluru: Vernacular news content aggregator DailyHunt (Ver Se Innovation Pvt. Ltd) is in talks with investors to raise about $40 million, said two people aware of the development.
While existing investors Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Falcon Edge Capital and Omidyar Network, who have together pumped in at least $40 million into the business since October 2014, have committed to participating in this round, the firm has roped in former Vodafone chief executive officer Arun Sarin as a new investor, said the people cited above on the condition of anonymity.
It was not immediately clear if Sarin will take up a board seat in the company.
The former Vodafone chief executive had earlier invested in ride-hailing service Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) in July 2015 and taken up a board seat in the company. Last September, Sarin invested in music streaming app Saavn. In June, Sarin picked up a stake in phone-directory app Truecaller.
“DailyHunt is in talks with a couple of new investors for this round. All the existing investors have committed to investing in this round and they have already got Arun Sarin on board as new investor,” said one of the two persons cited above.
Virendra Gupta, founder of Ver Se Innovation, Sequoia Capital, Matrix Partners, Falcon Edge, Omidyar Network and Arun Sarin did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment.
DailyHunt was initially started as NewsHunt by former Nokia executives Umesh Kulkarni and Chandrashekhar Sohoni in 2009 and sold to Ver Se Innovation in 2012. The company was rebranded DailyHunt in August 2015.
DailyHunt essentially aggregates content from more than 175 publications in 12 languages: English, Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu, Marathi, Bengali, Gujrati, Urdu, Oriya, Punjabi. The company has tied up with news publications such as Amar Ujala, Dinamalar, Malayala Manoroma, Kannada Prabha, Loksatta, AnandaBazar Patrika among others.
The company also sells e-books in 10 languages—English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi and Oriya—even giving consumers an option to pay for individual chapters.
Besides, the app has expanded its offerings beyond India to Sri Lanka, Bangaladesh, the United Arab Emirates and Africa.
News website TechInAsia reported in October last year that the company clocked about three billion monthly page views and had 22 million monthly active users.
The company, which started monetization last year, serves advertisements for app downloads, as well as banner ads.
DailyHunt is looking to launch different forms of content, including videos, apart from launching a test preparation service for government and banking jobs among others, Virendra Gupta, chief executive and founder at Ver Se, told TechInAsia in an interview last October.
According to industry experts, the vernacular content aggregation is likely to open up a plethora of opportunities for DailyHunt. In a July study, the Boston Consulting Group said that the number of rural Internet users would swell from 120 million currently to about 315 million by 2020, close to a 30% jump year-on-year. By 2020, rural Internet users will comprise about 48% of the country’s overall Internet user base.
“We expect that more than half of all new Internet users will come from the rural communities and that rural users will constitute about half of all Indian Internet users in 2020,” the study said.
In an attempt to strengthen its position in the vernacular content segment, DailyHunt in July invested Rs.15 crore in OneIndia, a local language content provider owned by Rajesh Jain and B.G. Mahesh. In July 2015, the firm bought e-commerce price comparison and recommendation platform BuyT.in (Rocket Science Innovations Pvt. Ltd).