India has long been deemed one of the next key battlegrounds for tech companies looking for growth outside the U.S., and a lesser-known social platform based in the country is increasingly bubbling up as a way to help it obtain that.
Enter ShareChat, a Bangalore-based social platform founded in 2015 but reported reaching 160 million monthly users in September 2020, up from 60 million in the same period in 2019. The overwhelming majority of ShareChat’s traffic comes from India, according to SEMrush.
That growth narrative sheds light on why TechCrunch reported yesterday that Google and Snap are in talks to participate in a $200 million ShareChat funding round that values the company at over $1 billion. Twitter may also participate in the round.
While both Google and Snap have to worry about the performance of their own services in India, ShareChat represents an attractive path for them to capitalize on users they may not already be reaching in less urban areas.
ShareChat serves users in 15 regional Indian languages and has not prioritized onboarding English-speaking consumers in India. The strategy has helped the platform gain traction in small Indian cities, areas that are likely relatively harder to penetrate for certain tech companies that don’t produce localized content/interfaces.
And the number of non-English Indian languages spoken in India makes it harder for U.S. companies looking to, say, run a large ad campaign that feels authentically localized across various Indian regions.
But ShareChat reports having tens of millions of users in each of the North, West, East and South Indian regions. That foot in the door represents access to influencers in different parts of India who could be sought out by American media firms to promote content or produce a localized sponsored post.
Netflix spent over $400 million in 2019 and 2020 to produce more local content in India, for example.
ShareChat’s platform could also help inform tech companies what types of local content are performing well in certain areas of India.
Perhaps that’s part of the reason why (a) Twitter is already a ShareChat backer and (b) Google was reportedly interested in buying ShareChat earlier in 2020.
ShareChat also launched a TikTok-like product called Moj soon after TikTok was banned in India, and Moj counted 80 million monthly users in September, according to the company.
So even though ShareChat is far from the biggest social platform in India (Facebook over a year ago claimed its family of apps reached 350 million monthly users there), its eye on current social tech trends and access to non-urban users in India suggests we’ll continue to hear more funding news relating to it in the months to come.