With the likes of Flipkart, Ola and OYO fighting and winning against global giants like Amazon, Uber, and AirBnB respectively, Indian start-ups have already made a strong claim that they would not give-up to their foreign counterparts anytime soon. These are only a handful of names and many more “home-grown” players are silently building their armory.
The Battle-ground of “India vs the World” was already burning and “The Next Big Battle” is being fought in the short video app market.
If you have been observing the short video app market closely, a new player has outshined others amidst tons of social media apps and now it has announced their arrival in style. Sharechat is India’s answer to Bytedance.
Founded in October 2015 by three IIT-Kanpur alumni, Ankush Sachdeva, Farid Ahsan and Bhanu Singh, ShareChat, is a regional language social media platform, which allows users to discover and share content in 14 Indian vernacular languages like Kannada, Tamil, Bengali, etc. Sharechat allows users to create posts, follow people, consume various types of multimedia content, message one-on-one and even share things onto various other communication platforms. In a span of three years, ShareChat reached 25 million monthly active users, 10 million daily active users, 25 million “user-generated content” created/posted per month and approximately five billion video plays per month.
Whereas ByteDance, one of China’s largest technology firms and the world’s most valuable startup at $75 billion, owns popular short-video and social media platforms – TikTok and Helo. TikTok, launched in 2016, has already surpassed one billion downloads last week, according to app data provider Sensor Tower. That makes it one of the world’s most-installed social networking apps last year behind only Facebook and its offerings. Tiktok has spread like wildfire in India, accounting for 25% of its total downloads to date. The app is hugely popular among India’s teenagers and the pre-teen population, especially in tier-2 and tier-3 cities.
To take on Bytedance, Sharechat has added much-required firepower to their existing arsenal. It is in initial talks with Tencent Holdings Ltd and other investors to raise as much as $200 million., Tencent, best known for its WeChat messaging service, could help ShareChat take on the rivals. The company was valued at around $460 million when it last raised money in September. It is now seeking a valuation of $600-700 million in the latest round of funding.
ShareChat has also acquired Transversal Tech-owned video sharing app Clip in an all-cash deal. The clip will continue to work independently post-acquisition and ShareChat will integrate the Clip app into its product as it looks to grow and strengthen its presence in the already hot Local Languages market of India.
According to a 2017 report by KPMG and Google, “Indian Languages — Defining India’s Internet”, there were 234 million Indian-language internet users and 175 million English users in 2016. By 2021, Users of Indian languages are expected to more than double to 536 million, while English users will increase to only 199 million. Nine out of 10 new internet users between 2016 and 2021 will use local languages, said the report.
The Battle has just begun and as time progresses, it will only intensify as India’s vernacular languages market expand.
We have interesting times ahead of us and one thing is for sure. No matter who owns the bigger share of market, ShareChat or ByteDance, India and its Internet will definitely win.