India-based startup rakes in $805 million funding for its short video app
About 4-5 days after India banned the Chinese app, TikTok, an Indian social content startup had launched its short video app, Josh. Many in the startup world predicted it could be the next big thing in the social media world, and they were proved right when VerSe Innovation, the parent firm of news aggregator app Dailyhunt and short video app Josh, announced that it has raised $805 million in funding for the app.
The Bangalore-based startup, VerSe Innovation, which boasts of one of the largest ad tech businesses in India, has been valued at nearly $5 billion in the new funding round, up from about $3 billion just eight months ago. A little over half the 805 million comes from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments). Others were Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’), Luxor Capital and Sumeru Ventures along with existing backers Sofina Group and Baillie Gifford.
The round of funding has beat Byju’s $800 million funding to become one of the largest in the Indian startup ecosystem in 2022. VerSe Innovation also has Google and Microsoft among its backers, and operates three popular apps that have managed to penetrate India’s many small cities and villages.
Josh has amassed over 150 million users in a short time, with 50 million among them being content creators. The app, clocks over 80 billion plays every month, and has tie ups with 15 music labels.
VerSe Innovation’s co-founders Umang Bedi, who was Facebook India head prior to this, and Virendra Gupta credited their ad tech business model for the success of the app.
“Josh is influencers-led commerce. Scores of creators on its platform are selling items from popular brands — and sometimes their own private labels — on the platform. We have an influencer who is a homemaker who is selling a variety of spices on the app… We are doing curated lives,” said Bedi in an interview with a tech portal.
VerSe will continue to grow their family of apps and serve users in the home market of India, said the duo.