The Viral Fever (TVF), known for its popular YouTube channel and web shows, has raised fresh funds from its largest existing investor, New York-based Tiger Global Management, showed regulatory documents sourced from paper.vc, a data intelligence platform.
“Filings indicate that Tiger Global is investing $5 million in TVF’s Series D round. Our estimate is TVF’s valuation is $82 million post this round, not accounting for new Series D participants," said Vivek Durai, founder, paper.vc.
Tiger has seemingly backed TVF, run by Contagious Media Network Pvt. Ltd, on the back of a spate of successful web shows, especially Kota Factory—a five-episode satirical comedy series about students aspiring to get into one of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology, and the grind of their journey.
TVF did not immediately respond to a text message seeking comment.
The investment also marks a valuation turnaround after TVF raised $6 million from Tiger last July in a down round valuing it at $40 million. A down round is when a company raises money at a valuation lower than its previous round. TVF was valued at $61 million when it had raised $10 million from Tiger in February 2016.
The entertainment startup was a media and advertiser darling between 2015 and 2017 when its parody videos of Bollywood actors, news anchors and everyday family situations on YouTube were hugely popular with the millennial audience.
The startup won more critical acclaim for its web series TVF Pitchers—a show about entrepreneurs looking to make it big. It was followed by similarly well-received shows such as Permanent Roommates and Humorously Yours.
But all hell broke loose on 13 March 2017, when an anonymous post on the Medium blog accused TVF founder Arunabh Kumar of sexual harassment. This set off a series of similar allegations from more women that painted a picture of misogyny, a male dominated atmosphere, and an all-too-familiar “dude-bro" culture at the startup. Kumar was soon arrested and later let out on bail. He resigned from TVF in June 2017.
Since then, it has been a topsy-turvy journey for the startup. From a financial standpoint, however, the firm appears to have turned a corner, with continuing support from its biggest investor at a better valuation, even as its web shows gain traction.
TVF started out solely as a YouTube channel that competed with the likes of AIB and East India Comedy with comic sketches. It later started producing web shows cutting across genres such as drama and comedy and spun off its productions to its TVF Play app as well. TVF’s YouTube channel currently has more than six million subscribers