It was something that was often discussed in hushed whispers in the startup community, but Seedfund founder Mahesh Murthy has gone ahead and said it.
Mahesh Murthy has shared an anecdote on his Twitter which is a snippet of a conversation he’s had with an unnamed investor in Hike. The Hike investor says that they know that’s Hike’s claimed 100 million plus users are a “fraud”, but investing in Hike is smart, because founder Kavin Bharti Mittal will inherit Airtel, and it’s “good to be connected.”
Me to investor in @hikeapp : No one uses it, numbers are fraud
He: We know
Me: Then why?
He: He'll inherit @airtelindia good to be connected
— Mahesh Murthy (@maheshmurthy) November 18, 2016
Hike Messenger was founded in December 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal, the son of Airtel Chief Sunil Mittal. It has found it hard to dislodge market leader WhatsApp from the number one spot, but claimed to touch 100 million users at the beginning of the year, becoming the only second Indian startup to reach the milestone. Thus far, the company has raised $261 million (Rs. 1750 crore) from investors such as Foxconn, Tencent, and Bharti Softbank, the joint venture between Bharti Enterprises, the company that owns Airtel, and Japanese firm Softbank.
Hike, for its part, has been iterating on its product, and has come out with a slew of interesting changes to its app. But its claimed 100 million user base has always been a bit of a mystery, and when we’d reviewed Hike earlier this year, we’d used the headline – “Nobody seems to use Hike, we try to find out why.”