Sweden-based Truecaller, a platform for verifying contacts, blocking calls and messages, listed on NASDAQ Stockholm on Friday, opening its trade with a 15 percent pop (the offering price was set at 52 Swedish Krona ($5.94) and the price on opening touched 60 Swedish Krona ($6.85)).
India is the largest market for Truecaller, and of the 278 million monthly active users worldwide (as of Q2 2021), 205 million monthly active users were in India. In 2020, 69 percent of Truecaller's revenues came from India.
Mugdha Variyar caught up with Alan Mamedi, CEO and co-founder, Truecaller
post the bell-ringing. Here is an excerpt of the interview where Mamedi speaks about the talent war in India, data privacy, and an abandoned fintech strategy.
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What was the moment like to ring the bell at NASDAQ Stockholm and to see the first trade for Treucaller?
ALAN: This has been an incredible day, it feels like a dream. We started our company 12 years ago, I never imagined this would happen. We are super proud, and this is just the beginning.
It must be an exciting time for you and your employees, including those in India, 55 percent of your employees are in India. What is the kind of wealth creation among your employees from the IPO? Several IPOs have created millionaires and crorepatis. What about at Truecaller?
ALAN: We have had a philosophy that everyone who joins the company is an important part and should get ownership in the company. Everyone who is part of the journey is hopefully going through some life-changing moments. We are all aligned. On the mission going forward, which is what keeps us excited.
India is your biggest market. More than 70 percent of your monthly active users are from India. Nearly 70 percentof your revenues are from India. Can you tell us how you plan to use the proceeds from the IPO, and how much of it will be directed towards India?
ALAN: India is our second headquarters. We have more team members in India than in Stockholm. We have over 200 million active users in India and our team is excited to jump and to get another 200 million. India is our most important market and a big part of Truecaller, not just in the customer base but also in the culture of the company.
One of the things you have highlighted in the prospectus is that you will use part of the net proceeds for acquisitions. Any more acquisitions planned in India?
ALAN: We have acquired two companies in India - Mess.ai and Chillr. We have some fantastic talent and technology to ramp up the roadmap and experience we want to provide. We will see what happens in the future. But it’s definitely something we are looking out for.
Coming to the revenue growth from India. Revenues in the whole of 2020 from India had grown by 78 percent YoY. The revenue from operations in India increased by a massive 170 percent in H1 of 2021 compared to the first half of 2020. What has led to this massive growth? Is it the spike in the number of users, more advertisements etc?
ALAN: There are several factors. Our incredible team in Bangalore is building the technology that leads to a better ad product. The whole world has seen the economy has started to come back, so that is also a contribution.
You mentioned your team in Bangalore. What are your hiring plans going to be? One of the risk factors you have cited is the increased competition in India for talent. How are you looking at the talent war?
ALAN: The talent pool is incredible and big, and so is the competition. Many big startups are raising money. We do have a lot of competition. I hope people who join us come for the mission. We have some fantastic leaders to inspire many people to come and join us. But it's not going to be an easy challenge.
Another risk factor you have mentioned in the changing regulations. From October 1, The RBI has brought in additional authentication for standing instructions on auto-debits. Truecaller has had to change subscription plans as well (Prospectus says Truecaller shifted to promote six month and twelve-month subscriptions rather than monthly auto-renew subscriptions. Will this impact your user subscription growth in India?
ALAN: RBI has improved rules for end users. We don't expect a big difference. We might see a small gap over a 30-day period.
On the overall picture of data security and privacy. There is a PIL in Bombay High Court that alleges unlawful collection of user data by Truecaller. Any comments on that? And how are you looking at the issue of data privacy and ensuring there is no breach?
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ALAN: We are looking into that matter right now. I am sure we will figure it out. When it comes to data protection and data security, we need the best talent to build systems that are safe and secure, and we have been doing that for 12 years. I am an engineer looking at data security and network security, so this is my cup of tea. On data localisation, Truecaller was one of the first tech companies in India to embrace data localisation.
In the prospectus, you have talked about an abandoned fintech strategy. You had launched your fintech pilot in India as well. What do you mean you have abandoned your fintech strategy?
ALAN: Truecaller for Business has seen fantastic growth, it grew better than expected. We had two options, one was to hire more engineers to build this product faster. But it is difficult to find great talent. So the whole team that worked on fintech moved on to Truecaller for Business, so overnight we had a large team focusing on it. That was a fantastic decision. We will see what we can do in the future around fintech.
How does it feel now to be a public company? What changes in your day-to-day operations?
ALAN: One of the reasons to go public is to show users around the world that we are not just a small startup in the basement. We are actually a company that is serious about what we do. Having more eyes on us from a public perspective is great. It shows our long-0term commitment.
(Edited by : Jomy Pullokaran)