Google, Microsoft back Indian TikTok rival as part of $100 million investment

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Microsoft and Google were part of an investment round that raised over $100 million for VerSe Innovation (via Bloomberg). VerSe makes Dailyhunt, a news aggregator, and Josh, a short video app and TikTok rival based in India, among several other brands. VerSe is now valued at more than $1 billion.

The latest wave of investment is led by AlphaWave. Previous investors Sofina Group and Lupa Systems also joined in the investment. Goldman Sachs and Sequoia Capital India are also investors in VerSe.

The new investment will help VerSe bolster Josh, which is a quickly growing short video app. VerSe plans to create AI and machine learning to grow Josh’s audience. Josh could also potentially expand beyond India in the future.

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Josh has an audience of 77 million monthly active users, and over 1.5 billion videos are played on the platform every day, according to a statement from Josh. Notably, TikTok was banned in India in June of this year.

Part of Josh’s growth could be related to the booming number of people who have access to the web in India. In a blog post, Google vice president Caesar Sengupta states:

In the last two years alone, 100 million new internet users have come online from rural India. Data shows that rural consumption now accounts for roughly 45 percent of overall mobile data usage in the country, and is primarily focused on online video.

Google’s investment isn’t just about Josh, however. Sengupta discusses the importance of content being available in people’s native language. Dailyhunt offers content in 14 languages, greatly increasing access to information. Google also announced investments in Indian startup Glance InMobi, which it announced in the same blog post.

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