Indian advertisement technology company InMobi has raised USD 145 million for its subsidiary Glance in a fresh funding round led by Google. Existing investors Mithril Capital also participated in the round that reportedly values Glance at over USD 1 billion.
Glance runs a mobile-first content platform as well as short video app Roposo.
“Glance is reimagining the future of digital consumption on smartphones,” said Naveen Tewari, founder and CEO of Glance and InMobi Group in a statement on Tuesday. “We are absolutely thrilled to have Google as a strategic investor in Glance and Roposo. With two of the largest digital content platforms in the country, we have taken the lead in making the digital economy accessible for the next billion users in India and globally.”
The company claims Glance has 115 million daily active users who spend 25 minutes, on an average, per day, while Roposo has more than 33 million monthly active users. InMobi also claims to have integrated Roposo and Glance as short videos from Roposo regularly show up on the Glance platform.
Glance plans to use the funds to expand its global footprint. Currently, it is present in Southeast Asian markets like Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. It will further deepen its presence in the Southeast Asian region, and expand to Brazil and the US next year.
Read this: We aim to be Roposo for the world, not just TikTok of India: Q&A with InMobi CEO Naveen Tewari
A part of this funding will go toward Roposo, which InMobi had acquired in November 2019, to attract and bring high-quality content creators and influencers on the platform. With the new funding in its kitty, Glance is also looking to strengthen its AI capabilities across Glance and Roposo, expand its technical team, and launch new services.
It is to be noted that 13-year-old InMobi, which was the first Indian company to achieve the unicorn status in 2011, competes with global tech titans including Google and Facebook in the digital ad space. InMobi launched its content platform Glance in early 2019 in a bid to reach consumers directly. In partnership with handset makers, Glance displays AI-driven personalized content in multiple languages including English, Hindi, Tamil, and Telugu across categories like entertainment, sports, fashion, and news, on the lock screen of Android smartphones.
At present, the company is not looking to monetize its content platforms.
“Monetization is not the biggest focus for us. 80-90% of the focus is on increasing engagement, developing AI, and increasing distribution,” Tewari told local media Economic Times. “We don’t rush into it, but hopefully by 2022 we should be in a place where we can solve for deeper monetization.”
Meanwhile, Google has also participated in the USD 100 million round of VerSe innovation, the parent company of news aggregator platform Dailyhunt. The deal was also announced on Tuesday.
“Glance InMobi delivers visual, immersive, and localized content experiences across products like Glance and Roposo, while VerSe Innovation serves vernacular content in 14 languages through platforms like the Dailyhunt and Josh apps,” Caesar Sengupta, VP, Google India, said in a blog on Tuesday.
Read this: What’s next for Indian short video apps?
The new investment underlines Google’s appetite for homegrown local language content startups to reach the next half a billion internet users. This also means that Google is now the backer of rival apps Roposo and Josh, which compete with dozens of other short video apps including Mitron, Trell, Reels, and Snapchat.
“Still too many Indians have trouble finding content to read or services they can use confidently, in their own language. And this significantly limits the value of the internet for them, particularly at a time like this when the internet is the lifeline of so many people,” he said.
At present, India has over 650 million people online, a majority of whom prefer to access the internet through smartphones. Last month, Google was reportedly in talks with local language social media platform Sharechat either for possible investment or acquisition.
These developments come six months after Google unveiled its USD 10 billion India Digitization Fund to be utilized over the next five to seven years. The Mountain View, California-based company has already written its biggest check, of USD 4.5 billion to Jio Platforms, the digital venture of oil-to-telecom conglomerate Reliance Industries.