In a bid to create a niche space in the growing regional social networking market in India, Twitter has led the $100 million funding round for ShareChat – the country’s largest vernacular social media platform with nearly 60 million users.
“Twitter and ShareChat are aligned on the broader purpose of serving the public conversation, helping the world learn faster and solve common challenges. This investment will help ShareChat grow and provide the company’s management team access to Twitter’s executives as thought partners,” Manish Maheshwari, Managing Director of Twitter India, said in a statement shared with IANS on Friday.
Founded by three IIT-Kanpur graduates, the Bengaluru-based start-up is today valued at over $600 million. ShareChat offers its services in the following languages — Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani and Bhojpuri.
For Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, there are a lot of opportunities in India.
“We love the conversational nature of the society and culture. We’re really excited to make Twitter viable to more and more people in the country,” the Twitter CEO told IANS last year.
According to Dorsey, the company launched Twitter Lite (a lighter data-friendly version of the main app) not too long ago, specifically for India, to reach people who don’t have access to hi-speed or costly data.
“India remains a top priority market for us and we’re making sure we understand how people use it here so that we can make it better.”
When it comes to monetising Twitter and further tapping the Indian market, Dorsey has his focus clear.
The latest financing round in ShareChat is aimed at that direction.
In 2014, Ankush Sachdeva, Farid Ahsan and Bhanu Pratap Singh – all IIT-Kanpur graduates – met at a technology event and ended up working together on ShareChat.
Initially, they created 10 WhatsApp group with 100 members each and within minutes, the groups were flooding will all kinds of content including — jokes, pictures, videos, etc and the biggest surprise was, most of them were in vernacular language.
This was the eye-opening moment for the trio to realise the huge appetite of users to consume local content and this led to the creation of ShareChat, India’s first vernacular platform which serves as a digital window to the next billion users.
Today, Sachdeva is the CEO, Ahsan heads the Operations teams as Chief Operating Officer and Singh works as Chief Technology Officer at ShareChat.