VerSe Innovation, The parent company of viral apps Dailyhunt and Josh has announced that it has raised $805 million in a Series J round, which was led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, also known as CPP investments. Additional investors including Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers), Luxor Capital and Sumeru Ventures as well as existing backers Sofina Group and Baillie Gifford, also participated in the round, taking the company’s valuation to staggering $5 Billion.
Frank Su, Managing Director and head of Private Equity Asia at CPP Investments, said in a statement,“India’s digital content is experiencing phenomenal growth, and VerSe Innovation is well positioned to be one of the leaders in the fast-growing short video and local language content space. This investment aligns with our approach of providing strategic capital to industry leaders in India’s technology sector. We look forward to supporting the next phase of VerSe Innovation’s growth journey, which we believe will deliver strong risk-adjusted returns for the CPP Fund.”
VerSe Innovation’s rise is based on honing their sustainable business model while capturing markets which were supposedly non-monetisable like the Indian village diaspora. The firm counts Google and Microsoft among its backers.
India’s ban on TikTok in mid-2020 prompted several Indian startups to launch their own short video apps. But most of them have either shut down or pivoted. Yet VerSe’s short video app, Josh, has amassed over 150 million users, 50 million of whom create and publish content.
With those bludgeoning numbers, Josh has emerged as what the startup claims to be a clear market leader. It competes with a handful of apps including YouTube, Instagram, InMobi Group unit Glance, and the merged entity of ShareChat and MX Player’s video apps.
VerSe’s another growing app Dailyhunt which operates in 15 languages and has a creator ecosystem of over 100,000 content partners, has clocked over 350 million users. Both apps’ performance has enabled VerSe to leverage their growth and expand their operation in multitude.
VerSe innovation was founded in 2007 by Virendra Gupta and Shailendra Sharma while Umang Bedi joined the firm in 2018.
Virendra Gupta and Umang Bedi said in a joint statement, “This partnership will strengthen our ability and leadership to deliver on our vision to build the largest AI-powered local language content platform across a family of apps serving the next billion users.”