Giving a much-needed boost to the Indian startup growth story, local language technology platform VerSe Innovation on Wednesday announced that it has raised $805 million from global investors, taking its valuation to $5 billion.
VerSe Innovation, that owns popular short-video platform Josh and local language content platform Dailyhunt, has raised $1.5 billion in the past year.
The investment, said the company, will be focused on strengthening its leadership position as the largest, fastest growing local language AI driven content platform in the country.
"We have raised this significant funding at a time when both private and public markets are facing a slowdown and founders are finding it difficult to raise capital. It is a single-largest investment in any of the startups in India, further validating our work to date and the robust business model," Umang Bedi, Co-founder, VerSe Innovation, told IANS.
VerSe Innovation has proved its worth across key metrics like user growth, engagement, monetisation and scale, and "we are helping millions of creators monetise their content in vernacular languages", Bedi added.
The $805 million funding round was led by Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPP Investments), along with Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers'), Luxor Capital, Sumeru Ventures and others.
Existing investors Sofina Group, Baillie Gifford and others also participated.
VerSe now plans on both deepening and broadening its AI/ML and data science capabilities to further cement its leadership position across all user, engagement and retention metrics, drive deeper monetisation including influencers, e-commerce and live streaming and forays into Web 3.0 experiences.
It currently has a local language creator base of over 50 million creators as well as its local language content ecosystem which experiences over 80 billion video plays per month.
"India's digital content is experiencing phenomenal growth, and VerSe Innovation is well positioned to be one of the leaders in the fast-growing short video and local language content space," said Frank Su, Managing Director, Head of Private Equity Asia, CPP Investments.
Josh currently has over 150 million MAUs (monthly active users) while Dailyhunt serves over 350 million users every month, offering content in 15 languages from a licensed creator ecosystem of over 100,000 content partners and individual content creators.
Another app ‘PublicVibe' from the company serves over 5 million monthly active users (MAUs) and 1 million daily active users (DAUs) and has over 6 million downloads on the Play Store.
"With a strategic focus on video content and building for India, we have seen explosive growth emerging from the next billion users coming out of regional India," said Virendra Gupta, Founder, VerSe.
"It is a big day, not only for us but also for the Indian startup ecosystem, as we create world-class products at the home turf," Gupta told IANS.
Josh, Dailyhunt parent VerSe raises $805 mn, takes valuation to $5 bn.
(With IANS inputs)