TikTok's Indian rival gets more than $100m investment from Google, Microsoft: report
Published: Dec 29, 2020 09:59 PM

The logo of TikTok is displayed on the screen of a smartphone in front of a TV screen displaying the TikTok logo. Photo: VCG

The parent company of the Indian rival of TikTok, Josh, has drawn more than $100 million of investment from Google and Microsoft, media reports said, after TikTok was banned in the country along with more than 260 other Chinese apps. 

According to media reports, the owner of the short video app Josh, VerSe Innovation, is now valued more than $1 billion after the latest round of investment. Other high-profile investors reportedly include Goldman Sachs Group and Sequoia Capital. 

Josh is one of the several short video platforms in India that work like TikTok. According to Indian media outlet, Josh is designed to target its home market, featuring a variety of local languages. The app has an audience of 77 million monthly active users and generates 1.5 billion video plays per day.

Other similar short video platforms to rival TikTok have been receiving funding from high-profile investors. In September, ShareChat, a content-sharing platform developed in India and the parent company of the short video app Moj, raised $40 million from investors including Twitter Inc and Lightspeed Ventures, according to media reports. 

Indian has banned more than 260 Chinese apps. After TikTok was banned in June, another 118 Chinese apps were banned by Indian authorities under the guise of a "national security threat," including Baidu, AliPay, WeChat Work and popular mobile game PUBG. In November, India banned 43 more smartphone apps including some related to Chinese tech giant Alibaba Group, such as Aliexpress, AliSuppliers Mobile App, Alibaba Workbench, Alipay Cashier and DingTalk.

The investment that the Indian short video platforms are receiving shows that TikTok's absence has left a vacuum in the market, according to Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University.

India represents a lucrative market for short video platforms, and it used to be TikTok's biggest market. According to an estimate by Redseer, a consulting firm, the number of smartphone users in India is expected to grow to more than 900 million in the next five years. 

However, the Indian market also seems to have been shrinking since TikTok was banned. According to Redseer, despite the rise of short video apps in India, after TikTok was banned in June, the total time Indian users spent on short video platforms decreased to 80 billion minutes from 165 billion minutes. 

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