Sharechat has been India’s go-to to engage in a short video and take a peek or have fun after the ban of the international sensation app, TikTok. The app recently has been in the news for many reasons; firstly, the Google acquisition has been in talks for overtime. TikTok’s competition versus Sharechat has been long and everlasting till the TikTok ban in India. Since then, many Indian users have shifted their talents to various such similar apps. That’s when Sharechat’s popularity grew and expanded to a 130 Million userbase in India. Even Microsoft had been in talks to acquire it too, but then the traction didn’t heed much effect for Microsoft more than what Google has observed for quite a while.
Sharechat has been an indie-startup revolution in India developed by Indie creators Mohalla Tech Private Limited and founded by Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and Farid Ahsan. An online debate forum called Opinio caught Mayank Khanduja’s attention in early 2015. The app was flagged by a program internally used to find fast-growing apps in India by venture capital company SAIF Partners, Khanduja’s employer. Khanduja, responsible for its early-stage investments, saw an opportunity and set up a meeting with its founders in Mumbai. What occurred was a revelation more remarkable than that of Opinio. The app developers, graduates of IIT-Kanpur Ankush Sachdeva, Farid Ahsan, and Bhanu Pratap Singh, have started work on their next product, ShareChat, which enables users to share vernacular content on the WhatsApp instant messaging platform. Image greetings, GIFs, text messages. (1)
With Khanduja, the idea struck a chord. In line with the thesis drawn up by SAIF Partners on the reach of of vernacular content companies in India, it must address the non-English-speaking population and thrive on user-generated content to keep costs low. It must have an aspect of social networking that will assist user acquisition without significant expenditure. ShareChat ticked both boxes, and along with India Quotient, SAIF Partners wrote a $1.2 million cheque to Mohalla Tech Pvt Ltd, the company behind ShareChat, in October that year. This was the second infusion into the firm by India Quotient. (2)
Accessible in 14 regional languages, its success in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities have been ShareChat’s power. From 5 Million in April-May 2018 to over 8 Million by the end of 2018, the business has seen daily active users rise. The company has raised 122 Million to date, with the last being a funding round of close to 100 Million announced to increase its valuation to 460 Million ShareChat recently removed 50 thousand accounts in a bid to clean up pornographic and violent material from its website, enabling users to recognize and report objectionable content. In categories like porn, abuse, fake news, hate speech, spam, impersonation, and offensive content, objectionable content can be identified.
Userbase potential and Growth
A Google and KPMG March 2017 study shows that vernacular internet users of 234 million outnumber English users of 175 million by far. The study also estimates that by 2021, local language users would rise to 536 million compared to 199 million for English. More than 90% of vernacular users access chat applications and interactive entertainment content, it adds. Also, Internet users of rural Indian language have higher interaction. Every week, they spend about 328 minutes on chat apps, social media, online entertainment, and news, compared to 308 minutes spent by urban users. Investors, too, took notice of the pattern. The Dailyhunt news app, the Pratilipi self-publishing platform, and the Clip App online video community have found supporters in the Chinese content company Toutiao, Nexus Investment Partners, and Matrix Partners. (3)
Acquisitions and expansion
ShareChat had acquired (4) HPF Films, a digital content video manufacturing business. The acquisition will help ShareChat and its short Moj video platform improve their efforts to develop a better content ecosystem, create a stronger fraternity of creators, and increase their brand advertisement solutions. A company statement said without revealing the amount spent on the new acquisition. Started in 2018, for more than 20 brands such as Meesho, OKCredit, ixigo, and Ola, HPF Films designed and produced over 3,500 titles in various formats, including web series, digital advertising, short films, and documentaries.
ShareChat announced the acquisition of the hyperlocal information portal for language-first Indian internet users, Circle Internet. Launched in 2018, Circle rapidly gained enormous popularity across multiple states among language-first Internet users. Circle provides Indian language internet users with locally relevant information across Tier 2 & 3 cities and currently has a presence in more than 120 districts in Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, and Kerala. The platform brings together a network of over 1000 volunteers to contribute to the ecosystem of hyperlocal content.
According to two individuals familiar with the contract, ShareChat purchased Elanic, a fashion peer-to-peer marketplace. As ShareChat looks at various models to monetize on its website, the people quoted above added, the idea is to foray into the world of social commerce through Elanic. Established in 2015 by IIT graduates Abhilash Narahari and Palkush Chawla and Aditi Rohan, Elanic has raised money from a few investors, including Rebright Partners, TracxnLabs, and angel investor Aneesh Reddy, since the inception of Elanic’s peer-to-peer marketplace for people to buy and sell apparel.
Moj: Sharechat’s TikTok
Moj is a short-video platform that emulates TikTok’s functionality, which was among the government-banned apps. Sharechat is a rival of Helo, another social media site operated by Bytedance, TikTok’s parent company. Right now, the parent app itself is also listed among the top free Google Play applications. Recently, the ban on Chinese apps has given a significant boost to Indian apps. As people search for TikTok alternatives, apps like Sharechat have seen an influx of users. (5)
The ban on TikTok has contributed to the rise of homegrown applications currently looking for alternatives to highlight talent to meet millions of users. With the launch of its short-video app ‘Moj,’ one such ShareChat app, whose product monetization plan began about 12 months ago. Investors such as Shriram Promoters Family, SAIF Partners, Twitter, Lightspeed Ventures, and India Quotient have recently received 40 million in pre-series funding, bringing the total funds raised to 264 million dates. ShareChat CEO & Co-Founder Ankush Sachdeva said Moj was on an exponential growth trajectory.
The complete understanding of Sharechat’s acquisitions and Growth explains why mani is interested in investing in the company. Google, Microsoft are certainly taking the right steps to research and acquire the company while it would be the biggest acquisition to date for an Indian social media app.