[Funding alert] Dailyhunt parent VerSe Innovation raises $805M
's parent company and local language technology platform has raised $805 million in its latest funding round led by global investors Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), Luxor Capital, Sumeru Ventures, and others.
Existing investors Sofina Group, Baillie Gifford, and others will also participate north of their pro-rata in this round, resulting in VerSe Innovation’s valuation reaching $5 billion. This is one of the largest single fundraises by a startup this year.
The $805 million investment follows close on the heels of a $650 million fundraise from Siguler Guff, Carlyle Group, Baillie Gifford, Falcon Edge Capital via Alpha Wave Ventures, Glade Brook Capital, Google, Microsoft, and Qatar Investment Authority taking the total capital raise in the past year to $1.5 billion.
"In the backdrop of capital markets dropping, and us raising $805 million at a valuation of $5 billion with marquee investors makes it special, most of these are long term funds, and have backed companies through multiple stages. The quality of the investors are exceptional. These are the single-largest cheque by CPP and OTPP. This validates the work and effort we have put in to build in a strong business," said Umang Bedi in a conversation with YourStory.
The investment will be focused on strengthening the company’s leadership position as the largest, fastest-growing local language AI-driven content platform in the country. Avendus Capital was the exclusive financial advisor to VerSe Innovation on the transaction.
VerSe also plans on both deepening and broadening its AI/ML and data science capabilities to further cement its leadership position across all user, engagement and retention metrics, drive deeper monetisation including influencers, ecommerce, and live streaming, and forays into Web 3.0 experiences across its local language creator base of over 50 million creators as well as its local language content ecosystem which experiences over 80 billion video plays per month.
"With COVID-19, and the rapid adoption of digital and mobile-first platforms, our business in the past 18 months has seen a significant growth. In March 2020, we had one app, now we have Josh’, India’s largest short video platform and ‘Dailyhunt’, India’s largest local language content platform coupled with ‘PublicVibe’, India’s fastest-growing hyperlocal video platform," added Umang.
He explained VerSe Innovation’s proprietary technology platform serves one out of every two internet users in the country. Josh is the fastest growing and most engaged short-video app in India with over 150 million MAUs (monthly active users), the best DAU/MAU ratio in the industry of 49 percent and the highest retention.
Frank Su, Managing Director, Head of Private Equity Asia, CPP Investments said, "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.”
Dailyhunt serves over 350 million users every month, offering content artifacts every day in 15 languages from a licensed creator ecosystem of over 100,000 content partners and individual content creators. PublicVibe serves over five million MAUs, one million daily active users (DAUs), and has over six million+ downloads on the Play Store.
Virendra Gupta, Founder, VerSe Innovations added in a conversation with YourStory, "Class attracts class and out performs form. Over the years we have kept our heads down and worked on building a strong business with consistent metrics and revenue growth. And nothing can beat or change that."
Virendra added that the team is now looking to further focus on building for the segment that they already are in, and further deepen their technological might. "All this with a strong focus on revenue growth," he added.
The team is looking to further expand and is open for M&A opportunities.
Maggie Fanari, Managing Director and Global Group Head, High Conviction Equities at Ontario Teachers' said “We are pleased to make a significant investment in VerSe Innovation through our new Alternative Capital Solutions team that offers flexible capital to high-quality public and private growth companies. We have been impressed by the company’s innovative local language offerings, market leadership and strong management team, and are excited to be partnering with them in this journey as Ontario Teachers’ continues to build out its portfolio in India.”
VerSe Innovation, with its family of apps focused on Bharat, became the first unicorn in tech for local languages and counts Goldman Sachs, Falcon Edge Capital, Sequoia Capital India, Matrix Partners India, Lupa Systems, B Capital Group, IIFL, Kotak, Catamaran, Bay Capital, Edelweiss, and Omidyar Network, among others as existing investors.