India’s economy might not have yet fully recovered from the coronavirus, but it’s still raining unicorns in the country.
Investments led by Google have today birthed two simultaneous unicorns in India. Glance, which feeds news and sports scores to phone-lock screens, had reached a valuation of more than $1 billion after a funding round by Google. Verse Innovation, which runs news app Dailyhunt and TikTok competitior Josh, has also touched the $1 billion valuation milestone after raising funds from Google and Microsoft.
Earlier this year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai had announced a $10 billion investment into India following a meeting with PM Narendra Modi. A large chunk of the amount had been invested into Jio Platforms, but it appears that Google is now aggressively backing other players in India’s technology space.
Newly-minted unicorn Glance is a part of the Inmobi group, which already has a valuation of greater than $1 billion. The company curates a personalized feed of entertainment, news, sports scores and video game content, and pushes it to phone lock screens. Glance currently has 115 million daily active users who average 25 minutes on the app each day.
“Glance marks an India-born innovation in the consumer internet space,” said Inmobi Group’s CEO Naveen Tewari. “Just as Google dominates search, YouTube rules video and WhatsApp is the messaging leader, Glance intends to dominate the lock screen,” he told Bloomberg. Google and and Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital invested $145 million in the company.
Meanwhile, Bengaluru-based VerSe Innovation, which runs Dailyhunt and short video app Josh, raised $100 million from AlphaWave, Google and Microsoft. The funding values the company at more than $1 billion. The company plans to use the new capital to scale up its short form video app Josh, expand its local language content offerings, to develop a content creator ecosystem and build artificial intelligence and machine learning systems.
2020 has been a particularly fruitful year for Indian startups. Apart from Glance and Dailyhunt, payments company Pine Labs, chlid-care company First Cry, fashion and beauty startup Nykaa, API platform Postman, broking platfrom Zerodha, ed-tech startup Unacademy, and payments company Razorpay have all become unicorns this year.