Indian social messaging app Hike has managed to raise $65 million (Rs 400 crore) from overseas investors. The biggest contribution came from New York-based Tiger Global in return for a minority stake in the company.
The funding is to be utilized to upgrade the app and develop innovative features. The funds will also be used to amp up more human talent and improve marketing initiatives. Launched in 2012 by Sunil Mittal’s son Kavin Bharti Mittal, the Hike app competes with the likes of WhatsApp, LINE, Viber, WeChat, Nimbuzz and even Facebook Messenger and Gtalk.
In June, Hike announced that its userbase had crossed 20 million. According to a report by Economic Times, Hike now has 35 million registered users, of which 15 million have been added in the last two months, making it the largest instant messaging app based out of India. Presently, it handles over 10 billion messages a month of which over 3 billion are Hike stickers, the company said. Close to 90 percent of the app’s users are from India and over 80 percent of its users are under the age of 25.
The impressive rise is attributed to Hike’s most innovative feature that allows users without smartphones to communicate with other Hike users via free SMS, a critical feature in India where feature phones still account for 71 percent of overall sales. The new feature called Hidden mode, which essentially keeps your chats private, unless one has the password was also widely accepted. Recently, the app also introduced a new feature called Big File Transfer, which lets users send files up to 100MB in size.
Apart from Tiger Global, Hike is also backed by Bharti Softbank (BSB) — a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Japanese telecom firm Softbank Corp. They invested a small part of the $65 million fund, making this the company’s third fund infusion after April 2013. Previously, the app had received $7 million and $14 million in March this year from BSB.