Mohalla Techbecame one of the latest companies to join the unicorn club after it raised $502 million
Conversational messaging startup Gupshup also achieved the coveted label on Thursday after raising $100 million from Tiger Global Management
The startup funding frenzy continued unabated, with Mohalla Tech—the company that runs Sharechat and Moj—and messaging platform Gupshup turning unicorns on Thursday, taking the total number of Indian companies that achieved billion-dollar valuations this week to six.
Mohalla Techbecame one of the latest companies to join the unicorn club after it raised $502 million in a funding round led by Lightspeed Ventures and Tiger Global. Twitter and Snap Inc. also invested in the latest round, propelling the startup’s valuation to $2.1 billion.
Conversational messaging startup Gupshup also achieved the coveted label on Thursday after raising $100 million from Tiger Global Management, increasing its valuation 10-fold to $1.4 billion, the company said on Thursday.
The flurry of startups that have achieved the unicorn label coincides with the funding frenzy led by Tiger Global and other US-based investors who are pumping in money as the pandemic accelerates the digitization of the Indian economy, disrupting existing business models.
Ankush Sachdeva, chief executive and co-founder of Mohalla Tech, said the latest funding would be used to grow the company’s user base, strengthen the creator community on its apps and improve the company’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered recommendation engines.
“As Internet penetration increases, ShareChat’s leading content creation platform is poised to expand dramatically by bridging into online purchases of goods and services. Additionally, Moj is well-positioned to seize the opportunity presented by the growth of short video in India," said Ravi Mhatre, Partner at Lightspeed Ventures.
The social media company, which was founded in 2016, has raised over $766 million over six funding rounds so far. The company says it has 280 million users between the two platforms—Sharechat and Moj.
While Sharechat has existed since 2016, its short video platform — Moj — is less than a year old. Moj was launched less than two days after the government banned Chinese short video platform TikTok last year.
On the other hand, Gupshup provides its application programming interface to businesses for customer engagement across communication channels. This includes providing chatbots, bot-building tools, omnichannel inbox capabilities, conversational AI, and client-side software to manage communications.
According to the company, it will use the investment to rapidly scale product and go-to-market initiatives worldwide to accelerate the transformation of business-to-consumer interactions with conversational experiences delivered over messaging channels.
“There is a need to create a two-way conversational experience, enabling higher value to customers. We will invest in product innovation and internal research and development," said Beerud Sheth, Gupshup co-founder and chief executive officer.
According to Sheth, even offline retail establishments, including restaurants, grocery stores, and salons, are looking to reach consumers digitally because of the pandemic.
Gupshup’s last funding round was in 2011, with the company continuing to be profitable since. It claims it had an annual revenue run rate of $150 million in 2020.
The company’s API enables more than 100,000 developers and businesses, delivering over 6 billion messages a month.
“The growth in business use of messaging and conversational experiences, transforming virtually every customer touchpoint, is an exciting secular trend. Gupshup is uniquely positioned to win in this market with a differentiated product, a clear and sustainable moat," said John Curtius, partner at Tiger Global Management.
The company has also seen increased demand from emerging markets such as Africa and South-East Asia.
“Our solutions are optimized for mobile-first economies, which include emerging markets of Latin America, South-east Asia, Africa as well as India. We believe there will be a 50% growth in our revenues annually, with a 75% growth in messaging volumes on our platform," Sheth said.