Farid Ahsan, co-founder of ShareChat. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint
Farid Ahsan, co-founder of ShareChat. Photo: Hemant Mishra/Mint

ShareChat raises $18 million from Xiaomi Singapore, others in Series B round

ShareChat will use the fresh funds to expand its technical capabilities, especially for servers, and to hire across segments including machine learning and artificial intelligence

Bengaluru: Indian social media platform ShareChat, run by Mohalla Tech Pvt. Ltd, has raised $18.2 million in a Series B funding round led by Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Singapore and Shun Wei Capital, the company said in a statement.

Existing investors including SAIF Partners, Lightspeed Partners, India Quotient, and Venture Highway also participated in the round.

The company will use the fresh funds to expand its technical capabilities, especially for servers, and to hire across segments including machine learning and artificial intelligence, Farid Ahsan, co-founder of ShareChat, said in an interview.

The firm had previously raised $4 million in a Series A round in November 2016.

ShareChat is an Indic language social media platform, which was launched in 2015 with support for languages like Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Gujarati, Punjabi and Malayalam. It allows users to share posts and updates in text, video, GIFs and audio formats. It currently has over 8 million monthly active users.

Ahsan said that after the launch of Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd in 2016, multimedia consumption had gone up significantly. “Video consumption used to be at 10% pre-Jio, now videos contribute to around 35% of the platform’s consumption," he said, citing an example.

In an earlier interaction with Mint, Sharechat co-founder Ankush Sachdeva had said video consumption quadrupled on Sharechat after the launch of Jio in September 2016. Video consumption was 5 million minutes per day in August 2017; this touched 18 million minutes per day by December 2017.

“Vernacular content consumption in India has witnessed a meteoric rise in the last 2 years growing from 42 million in 2011 to 234 million in 2016. These numbers are a great indication of the huge opportunity available for products, focused on the vernacular audience," Sachdeva said in a statement.

The content segment in India, which roughly includes video streaming, news aggregation and vernacular social media platforms, has seen an increase in consumption due to the availability of cheaper data and smartphones in the Indian market.

According to the Internet Trends 2017 report by venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, 80% of all web traffic in India comes from mobile, a proportion which is second highest in the world. Out of this, a majority of the mobile usage is video. Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI) Forecast revealed that video consumption touched half (50%) of India’s mobile data traffic by the end of 2017.

At least two content start-ups have raised funding from investors in the recent past. Video-sharing platform Clip raised $6 million led by Matrix Partners India in December 2017. In the same month, content sharing start-up YouQuote raised $1 million in a seed funding round led by IDG Ventures India. Mint reported in November 2017 that self-publishing platform Pratilipi (Nasadiya Tech Pvt. Ltd) was in talks with investors to raise fresh funds.

Apart from this, content and news focused start-ups such as InShorts, YourStory, ScoopWhoop, FactorDaily and The Ken received cash from venture investors and others in the past.

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