Homegrown social media venture ShareChat announced on September 24 that it had completed a Pre-Series E funding round of $40 million from a group of investors including Twitter, SAIF Partners, Lightspeed Ventures and India Quotient.
With this round, the company has on-boarded two prominent investors – CEO and Chairman of Hero MotoCorp Dr Pawan Munjal, who invested in his personal capacity through his Family Trust and DCM Shriram Chairman Ajay Shridhar Shriram, who has invested through DCM Shriram Promoters Family Office.
The funds will be utilised towards driving growth for Moj, ShareChat's newly-launched short-video platform. Pegged as India's alternative to Chinese app TikTok, Moj currently supports 15 Indian languages.
A large part of the fund will be used to double its product development, grow its creator ecosystem and establish partnerships with music labels.
Speaking about the investment, Dr Munjal said, "India's IT industry has made an indelible impact on the global economy in the recent decades and now India's new age start-ups are building on the existing resources to reach the next growth stage. The economic and demographic ecosystem of the internet universe is primed for companies like ShareChat and their products. I have immense faith in the young entrepreneurs of our country and truly believe in their aim to achieve a significant global customer base." He added, "ShareChat is an excellent example of a self-reliant company that is aiming to take India to the world."
DCM Shriram Chairman Ajay Shriram said, "ShareChat's growth story has not been limited to its own success, but also motivated many young Indian entrepreneurs to dream big in the internet ecosystem. The passion and success exhibited by the company and its growth trajectory has encouraged the development of a whole new social media product ecosystem in India. We are equally passionate to contribute to this journey, helping them emerge as leaders in India and also, strong contenders on the global landscape."
Co-founded in 2015 by IIT-Kanpur batch-mates Farid Ahsan, Bhanu Singh and Ankush Sachdeva, the company claims that ShareChat and Moj together have over 240 million monthly active (MAUs). When asked for a breakdown, ShareChat said it exceeded over 160 million MAUs in the past month with 31 minutes of average daily time spent being on the platform by them. The company added that Moj has garnered over 80 million MAUs with users spending about 34 minutes on average on the platform.
CEO and co-founder Sachdeva said, "ShareChat is on a rapid growth path and is spearheading the growth of the Indic language Indian social media landscape." He added, "ShareChat and Moj together form one of the largest content ecosystems in the country, offering a great experience to the users and enabling brands to engage with the audience deeply."
Micro-blogging site Twitter previously led ShareChat's Series D funding round with additional backing from SAIF Partners, Lightspeed Ventures and India Quotient.
Mayank Khanduja, Partner at SAIF Partners said, "We are thrilled we took the right call at a time when there were not many examples of Indian social media platforms. Today, we are excited for the path ahead for both Moj and Sharechat as we foresee Moj becoming a global platform. We are delighted to reaffirm our support to the company in this financing round."
Dev Khare, Partner at Lightspeed India said, "We are excited to deepen our partnership with ShareChat, continuing our support in every financing round since leading their Series A. The company’s India-first brand and capabilities in local languages, product innovation, AI, growth and retention are deep moats. The hyper-growth in 2020 for its two applications – Sharechat and Moj – underscores its emergence as a quintessential Indian success story."
Madhukar Sinha, Partner at India Quotient said, "To our amazement, the first version of Sharechat app was created in just a few days of beanbags and red bull in our office. And five years later they have done the same with Moj. As a new era unfolds with Moj, we are yet again solidly behind this team to support them. We believe Moj is designed for bigger success and will succeed across India, and beyond India in the years to come."
ShareChat, which currently employs over 400 people, recently expanded its ESOP pool by $14 million to $35 million to reward employees. The company also announced a 50 percent bonus for existing employees holding ESOPs in the company. The scheme will be applicable for existing employees, who were on the company's payroll on June 30, 2020.