VerSe Innovations raised another 100 million through funding round

VerSe Innovation, a local language company based in India, announced on Monday 8th February 2021, that it raised over $100 million (about Rs728 crore) in a Series H funding round held by global investors Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), the sovereign wealth fund of the State of Qatar, and Glade Brook Capital Partners.

According to a statement, Canaan Valley Capital and existing investor Sofina Group also participated in this round. Avendus Capital was the primary financial advisor to VerSe Innovation on the transaction.

This follows closely from December when VerSe had raised $100 million from Google, Microsoft, and AlphaWave (unit of Falcon Edge Capital) to become India’s first technology for local languages.

’Made-in-Bharat-for-Bharat-by-Bharat-in-12-Bhartiya-languages-hosted-in-Bharat’ short video platform ’Josh’ remains to be the main area of interest for the Bengaluru-based startup. It attempts to put the fresh funds in the ongoing efforts to scale up its local language content offerings, create a content creator network and to influence artificial intelligence (AI) to improve the app.

”This will include the augmentation of local language content offerings, the development of its content creator ecosystem, innovation in AI and ML and more importantly, creation of opportunity for India’s vast talent pool”, the statement said.

Josh began operations in September last year and is now one of the most rapidly growing short form video apps constituting of over 85 million monthly active users (MAU), 40 million daily active users and more than 1.5 billion video plays every day, according to the company. The only other local app with more users is Roposo which claims to have over 100 million MAUs. Among new apps which were launched after the TikTok ban, MX Taka Tak has over 70 million MAUs.

Local language support is one of the central features of Josh. It currently entertains 12 Indian languages and dialects such as Hindi, English, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Gujarati, Bangla, Oriya, Punjabi and Bhojpuri.

In December, Roposo’s parent company Glance Digital Experience Pvt. Ltd. had raised $145 million (about Rs1,056 crore) funds from Google and Mithril Capital.

The ban on ByteDance’s TikTok in India in June last year left a void and led to the displacement of 200 million odd TikTok users in the country. The ban was made perpetual last month by the Indian government when they announced there is no hope of the platform making a comeback to India.

This may lead to more opportunities for brand endorsements to many of these homegrown short form video apps, which have observed huge growth in user base but are yet to achieve the same engagement levels as TikTok. As a result, many of the top brands have been doubtful about associating with them and their creators.

VerSe Innovation’s other property Dailyhunt is a local language news aggregator app with over 300 million users and content contributing in 14 Indian languages.

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