Bengaluru: News and entertainment content aggregator NewsDog on Monday said it has raised $50 million in a Series C funding round led by Tencent Corp., in one of the largest start-up deals in the news and entertainment content space.
In February, Mint reported that NewsDog was in talks to raise $35-40 million from Tencent and others as start-up investors look for content providers that can attract a large user base online.
The funding round has been completed, NewsDog said in a statement, adding other investors who took part in the round were venture capital funds DHVC (Danhua Capital) and Legend Capital, and China-based mobile app publisher and developer DotC United Group.
NewsDog, owned by Hong Kong-based Hacker Interstellar, plans to set up offices across India this year. It presently operates out of two locations in India—Pune and Gurugram. It also aims to double headcount as it attempts to reach hundreds of millions of new Indian users.
Proceeds from the latest funding round will be used by the content aggregator to pursue its goal of empowering individuals and professional content creators to showcase their work and reach the digital public, it said.
“After the new round of financing, the company’s expansion plans will focus on two aspects. One is to create a more dynamic content platform for users by enriching localized experience by adding more regional languages. The other is to constantly buttress our technical capabilities in order to provide users with a more personalized experience," Yi Ma, co-founder and chief operating officer, said in a statement.
Launched two years ago, NewsDog has quickly become one of India’s three top news and entertainment apps, along with UC News—owned by Tencent rival Alibaba—and local start-up DailyHunt.
NewsDog ranks first in the news category in India on Google Play with over 50 million users, it said in the statement. The firm also launched a platform called WeMedia allowing users to submit content, and has over 30,000 regular contributors so far.
Part of the reason behind its popularity is attributable to its focus on various regional languages—it is available in 10 local languages. NewsDog is also one among many Asian internet platforms—like Xender, UC Browser and MX Player—that have captured the attention of Indians in smaller cities and towns as they are tailor-made for low-cost smartphones.
Still, while content start-ups have done well to attract customers and investments, their ability to generate ad revenues—the main source of money—remains questionable in a business dominated by Google and Facebook Inc. The latest round of funding in NewsDog is also relatively outsized given that news is viewed as the least lucrative model within the content business.