Hike messenger today announced having raised $175 million, at a valuation of $1.4 billion, led by Tencent and Foxconn, along with existing investors – Softbank, Bharti and Tiger Global. After the current valuation, the platform has qualified in the list of unicorns.
“This new funding will help push the platform to greater heights and invest in areas that will be key to our long-term vision and success. We will keep improving the product,” says Kavin Bharti Mittal, Founder and CEO, Hike Messenger.
He adds that with an emphasis on privacy, the platform has introduced various new features such as local expressive content and data constraints.
Besides over 10,000 stickers available in 40 languages, the other features include news, games, live cricket, coupons and other features. Features like Hike2SMS and Hike Direct are built for India. The former helps send free messages when there’s no internet connectivity and the latter helps share files without the internet.
These features also give it edge over other messaging apps.
When asked about the business model and monetisation of the platform, Kavin says that it is too early to make comments on it. He, however, assured that he is currently building the ecosystem and the monetisation part will be addressed later. “We are still at the nascent stage and our priority is to offer solution. We are simplifying how people connect and interact with content and services on mobile.”
Hike raised the first round of funding of $7 million from Bharti SoftBank in April 2013. In August 2014, the platform raised $65 million led by Tiger Global. With the new round, the total amount of funding has reached close to $ 250 million.
On this funding, Tencent President Martin Lau says, “Hike deeply understands India, a highly diverse market with many nuances. It is on a mission synergistic to ours, which is to enhance the quality of human life through internet services. With our investment, Hike will be able to leverage our deep domain expertise in the messaging platform space to provide more value to its users in India.”
Launched in December 2012, Hike attained 15 million users in February 2014. Over the next few months, the application introduced free text messaging anywhere in India, chat themes, updated stickers, hidden chats and revamped user interface. In August 2014, Hike hit 35 million users. In October 2015, the platform announced that the userbase of hike reached up to 70 million and more than 20 billion messages are shared each month.
Kavin adds that the journey of the platform, which started in December with an aim to bring people on internet via a messaging app, has touched the user base of 100 million and share over 1 billion messages every day, has reached a strategic position.
Facebook-owned WhatsApp is the dominant chat app in India, with more than 100 million active users in the country.