Google-backed Indian tech startup VerSe raises $805M at $5 billion valuation for its short-video app Josh and news aggregator Dailyhunt
VerSe Innovation, the parent company of short video app Josh and news aggregator app Dailyhunt, has raised $805 million led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The round, which puts the Google-backed startup at a $5 billion valuation, also saw participation from Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board, Luxor Capital, and Sumeru Ventures.
The funding comes at a time when most startups are struggling to raise capital. Late last year, VerSe raised $450 million in its Series I round co-led by Siguler Guff, Baillie Gifford, and Carlyle Asia Partners.
VerSe said it will use the fresh capital infusion to strengthen the AI-powered local language content platform across its family of apps, which targets the next billion internet users from India. The short video space has since attracted global investor interest in applications filling the gap.
Founded in 2007 by Umang Bedi and Virendra Gupta, VerSe is a Bangalore, India-based tech startup that develops a discovery platform to consume and socialize with media. Its platform facilitates the curation of content and tracks user preferences through its vertical search and recommendation tools that provide users with personalized content and notifications.
Josh, which has more than 150 million monthly active users, currently competes in India with home-grown rival Moj and Meta Platforms’ Instagram Reels. They all sprang after India blocked the popular TikTok in June 2020 amid a border crisis with China.
Dailyhunt is a news aggregator app that operates in 15 languages. Since its launch a few years ago, Dailyhunt has garnered a creator ecosystem of over 100,000 content partners plus over 350 million users. VerSe’s recently launched app PublicVibe, also has over 5 million monthly active users.
VerSe co-founder Umang Bedi, who previously served as the India head of Facebook, told TechCrunch that the startup had to “build its own adtech business to make more economic sense for all its stakeholders including the company’s growing universe of creators.”
“A data point that I can share with you is that there are 400 advertisers in India with whom we have full-funnel integration with their third-party mobile measurement platforms,” he added.
“That’s how we reconcile first-party billing and third-party billing data to really drive performance campaigns. We are not dependent on certain advertisers. 50% of our advertisers are enterprises and the rest are small businesses across tier 2, 3, and 4 India.”