Why Are Global Investors Upbeat On Hike?
Homegrown mobile messaging app Hike Ltd that claims to be the second largest messaging app of the country, after WhatsApp has hit another milestone. The company has now attracted investments from Silicon Valley’s Quora CEO Adam D’Angelo, WordPress Co-founder Matt Mullenweg along with Aditya Agarwal and Ruchi Sanghvi of Dropbox. Already, Bharti SoftBank and Tiger Global are two big institutional investors in Hike.
Analysts believe Silicon Valley investors are keen on innovative companies that are working on mobile, big data, Internet of Things and other similar digital technologies. From that view, Hike has attained a number of milestones in recent months. in December 2015 that users are exchanging over one billion messages per day or in other words, 30 billion messages per month. This number has grown by 50 percent since August 2015.
Launched in December 2012, Hike is run by Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of Bharti Enterprises chairman Sunil Mittal. Kavin is aggressively looking at growinmg into a platform for content, media and services. He said in a recent LiveMint interview published in October, “Our big goal is to comfortably cross 100 million users as soon as possible. Also, at the same time to figure out what it means to build Hike as a platform or an operating system for a mobile-first emerging market like India.
It is a very complicated journey. We are 200 people today between Bangalore and Delhi. That number will double in the next one year,” he said.
Last year, after reaching 35 million downloads, the company had raised $65million in funding to fuel its growth. In August 2015, Hike launched the faster and seamless - Hike 4.0 version of its app and in addition to messaging, started to offers coupons, snippets, a chatbot and a facility to chat without Internet known as Hike Direct.
The company has also appointed industry veteran Vidur Vyas as VP of marketing and Sumit Mehra as Studio Head in order to spearhead Hike’s marketing initiatives, brand positioning and strategic alliances - a strategic move to beat competition.
While there are a number of smaller players in the IM space, on a global scale, its main competition are the Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which as of last September had 900 million active users, and Facebook Messenger, which in December hit 800 million monthly active users.
Hike reportedly accused Facebook of blocking an option in its advertisements which lets people visit the chatting application’s website. “Advertisers have, among other options, the option to ‘send people to your website’. A few weeks back we were suddenly blocked from using this option, while we were able to use other non action-led options,” a Hike spokesperson told PTI recently, indicating an intense competition in the space.
Local route to success
To Hike is strategically taking the local route to success. In December 2015, the company launched Hike in eight local languages. This would enable users to choose a local language and also with it, see a special keyboard that they can use built specifically for that language. “One cannot build for India without understanding the enormous diversity in the country. This is another big step towards catering to that diversity to bring India online,” Mittal said in a statement.
Experts believe internet penetration will continue to get a huge boost with the proliferation of local language content in the country. The number of local language Internet users in India is growing at 47% year-on-year and has touched 127 million in June 2015, thanks to the increasing use of smartphones in rural areas of the country, says a new report by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and market research firm IMRB International released in August 2015.
It is owing to these potential that invstors are getting attracted to Hike. Ruchi Sanghvi, Vice President, Operations, Dropbox, who was earlier with Facebook where she was instrumental in implementing the first versions of key features such as News Feed mentions, for example explains her rationale for investing in Hike. “We understand the challenges faced by the billion plus people of India. Messaging is playing a key role in bringing people online in a mobile first market and Hike Messenger has begun to play a pivotal role in that market,” she says.
Likewise, the other investor, Matt Mullenweg, Founder and CEO of Automattic Inc. and Co-Founder of WordPress and an online social media entrepreneur, says, commenting on his investments in Hike, “As an online social media entrepreneur myself, I have keenly observed India. I believe in Hike Messenger’s vision and I can see the team gearing up and are well positioned for aggressive growth in the country.”
Experts believe, the Silicon Valley companies are no doubt hoping to take advantage of India’s ongoing explosion of growth in Internet-related businesses. In recent years, the country has become the world’s second largest in terms of mobile population. “It’s great to have the world’s top brains in tech share Hike’s vision and not just entrust us with their investment. More importantly, they also advise us on our product and strategy,” the Junior Mittal concludes.
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