The investment will be routed to the company’s short video app Josh that competes with MX TakaTak, Roposo, Moj, Mitron, Trell, and Chingari and currently banned TikTok.
The fund backs digital-first consumer brands across food and beverages, beauty & personal care, lifestyle, and home products segments.
Verse Innovation, which owns and operates short video app Josh and content aggregator app Dailyhunt, has secured over $100 million in funding from Falcon Edge Capital’s AlphaWave, Google, and Microsoft at a valuation of more than $1 billion. The latest to join the unicorn tally in India, Dailyhunt’s existing investors Sofina Group and Lupa Systems also participated in the current round. The investment will be routed to the company’s short video app Josh that competes with MX TakaTak, Roposo, Moj, Mitron, Trell, and Chingari and currently banned TikTok. The app is currently available in 12 Indian languages.
Apart from investing in Josh, the funding will be deployed towards the augmentation of local language content offerings, the development of content creator ecosystem, and innovation in AI and ML, the company said announcing the investment in a statement on Tuesday. The app currently has over 200 creators, 10 music labels, over 15 million user generated content (UGC) creators, etc. with more than 77 million monthly active users and 36 million daily active users, the company said. The app ‘plays’ over 1.5 billion videos per day.
Josh has been among a bunch of homegrown apps that benefitted from the TikTok ban in June this year, creating a void in the market for short-form content creators and viewers. The short-form content apps saw a decline in monthly time spent by users to just 37 billion minutes in July 2020. However, it has bottomed out since then and has scaled back to 95 billion minutes till early December, according to a recent RedSeer report. TikTok had a share of 85-90 per cent of total monthly time spent by Indians on short-form apps in June 2020 but lost around 40 per cent share to Indian apps in October 2020. As a result, from 4-6 per cent share of around 165 billion minutes (275 hours) spent by viewers on Indian short-form apps in June 2020, such as Josh by Dailyhunt, MX TakaTak, Roposo, Moj, Mitron, Trell, and Chingari, increased to around 67 per cent, roughly translating to 55 billion minutes (91 hours), in October.
The penetration of short-form content in India is currently around 45 per cent of approximately 600 million internet users in India — around 275 million users who access short-form content on the back of shorter attention spans of millennials and GenZ, increased visibility for creators, need for entertainment, and vast vernacular libraries, according to Redseer. The user base is expected to grow to 580 million users and around 430 million MAUs by FY25.