Indian Startups Attract Investment from Google

As 2020 brought difficulties to Chinese investors and bilateral relations, many global tech giants were bullish about India’s digital sector. Google continued investing in both established Indian tech companies and the country’s digital startup ecosystem.

A New Round of Financing by Alphabet Inc.

Google announced last month that it is investing in two Indian startups, Glance and DailyHunt. Under its Chennai-born CEO, Sundar Pichai, the American tech giant continues showing faith in the desi digital ecosystem. The “India Digitization Fund” it unveiled earlier last year has committed USD 10 billion towards the country’s technological development. Notably, almost half of that (around USD 4.5 billion) was invested in Jio Platforms, the telecom arm of Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries.

Recent reports confirm Google’s intent to expand into the second largest global internet market. Glance Digital Experience is part of ad giant InMobi Group. Its core service employs AI to deliver personalised content to users – news, media and games such as online Teen Patti.

Daily Hunt was the other tech desi startup targeted by this round of investments. The company’s main app is called NewsHunt and is another leading digital content marketplace which strives to serve regional Indian segments.

From News to Video, Quality Content Is Key

Both Indian companies have a string of similarities in their policy and target market. Glance replaces the lock screen with locally relevant news and casual games. Barely a couple of years into its development, Glance has managed to establish pre-instalment agreements with all major Indian-made smartphones – Samsung, Xiaomi, Vivo and Realme, to name a few.

Glance serves over 115 million daily active users, specialising in local language contents and services. Finding relevant content for native speakers remains a challenge for many in the country and creates a digital divide between user groups. But if there is a content type which breaks such barriers, it’s (short) videos. Thinking in that direction, a year ago InMobi acquired Roposo, another startup from Gurgaon which is growing in popularity among short-form video users. Roposo offers short entertaining video content across multiple genres in more than 10 languages.

Currently serving around 33 million monthly users, Roposo is one of over a dozen apps seeking to fill the void left by TikTok when the latter was banned by the Indian government in June. This came as a heavy blow for the Chinese company which had in India its biggest foreign market. Then again, it presented the opportunity for many Bharat-made platforms to recapture the spirit of short-video social networking.

DailyHunt’s short-video service is called Josh. The parent company claims it reaches over 300 million users monthly – including its news and entertainment contents in 14 Indian languages – and boasts investment support from Google, Microsoft and AlphaWave among others, with a market value of over USD 1 billion, making DailyHunt one of India’s newest tech unicorns.

Both Glance and DailyHunt plan to use fresh capital to scale up their services – especially the video-sharing platforms – increase local language delivery and facilitate content creator ecosystems.

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