VerSe Innovation launches Dailyhunt in the Middle East

The Bengaluru-based unicorn is launching its news aggregator app Dailyhunt in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait.
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VerSe Innovation, the parent of news and content aggregator DailyHunt and short video app Josh, is expanding its operations in the Middle East region, with its headquarters in Dubai. This is the startup’s first foray into the global market. 

The Bengaluru-based unicorn is launching Dailyhunt in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait, it said on Tuesday. The startup's operations in the region are being led by media veteran Shekhar Iyer as Director and General Manager of VerSe Innovation, MENA (the Middle East and North Africa). 

The expansion comes after the local language technology platform raised $805 million in a Series J round that valued the company at $5 billion. It joins a number of Indian startups that have been eyeing the Gulf.

The foray gives Dailyhunt access to a country with a digital-savvy population that has a 98 percent internet penetration. The above-mentioned countries add 60 million people to the startup’s total addressable market.

“We are aiming to address the unmet content needs of the market that demonstrates very similar, linguistically diverse audiences, as seen in the local language dominated market like India,” Umang Bedi, Co-founder, VerSe Innovation told YourStory in an interaction. 

VerSe Innovation has planned to enter the Middle East and North Africa region

“News is a very high-interest category in the region, consumed on mobile–web and app. There is no incumbent large player in the local language space,” he added. 

VerSe has partnered with more than 5,000 content publishers in the region. It is presently offering content in English, and will include Arabic in a couple of weeks. It plans to expand further into MENA countries including Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Egypt, and offer support for languages like Hebrew, Farsi, and Arabic. 

Dailyhunt is tapping into a $5 billion+ internet advertising market, according to Statista. The Middle Eastern region has a population of more than 400 million people (according to the World Population Review), where people use different local languages. For Dailyhunt, this makes it a market similar in size to India. 

With consumers in Gulf countries having a higher purchasing power, the company also expects to see higher ad revenue per user. The region also has a large publisher base across these local languages and across formats. 

The company says plans to expand beyond India had been in the works for more than a year, but were delayed due to the pandemic. 

“We wanted to accelerate it earlier, but we couldn't. Now, we are doing it because the market environment that we live in will reward companies which can prove that they can scale further scale monetisation and profitability,” Umang said. 

The task for the team is to grow its content partners, and understand the nuances of local laws and ecosystem as it aims to increase its sales and revenue. 

"It is interesting to witness the end-user content growth in this region, and we are excited to see the impact that Dailyhunt creates in MENA,” said Shekhar, who has previously worked with Abu Dhabi Media (Radio Mirchi), Percept Gulf (MAME), Zee Entertainment, The Indian Express, and Khaleej Times.

Edited by Kanishk Singh

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