The Series D round values Hike at $1.4 billion, enabling the messaging platform to enter the Unicorn league, which is dominated by e-commerce players.
Existing investors Tiger Global, Bharti Group and Japan’s Softbank also participated in the fourth round, taking the total external financing raised by the firm to $250 million, the company said, in a statement.
Hike – launched in December 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of billionaire entrepreneur Sunil Mittal (chairman of Bharti Enterprises) – has raised roughly $90 million from Tiger Global and Bharti SoftBank (BSB), a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises and Japan’s SoftBank Corp.
In January this year, Silicon Valley tech veterans including Adam D’Angelo, founder and CEO of Quora, Aditya Agarwal and Ruchi Sanghvi of Dropbox, and Matt Mullenweg, founder and CEO of Automattic Inc. and co-founder of WordPress invested in the company. They invested in their personal capacities and play an advisory role at Hike.
“Hike will be able to leverage our deep domain expertise in the messaging platform space to provide more value to its users in India,” said Martin Lau, President, Tencent.
Tencent operates its WeChat messaging app in India, where it faces tough competition from Facebook Inc-owned WhatsApp. The investment in Hike could help Tencent gain more market share in India.
In January, Hike had claimed to have over 100 million users, of which more than 95 per cent were in India. Hike launched its games offering in March. Tencent, too, has a portfolio of games, commerce, content and messaging apps but it is much bigger than Hike.
Tencent’s effort to step up its game in the Indian market marks yet another Sino-American rivalry coming into the forefront with Alibaba pushing its way into the e-commerce space to take on Amazon, and Didi Kuadi investing in Ola to compete with Uber in the transport aggregation market.
Unlike other popular instant messaging apps like WhatsApp, Hike supports eight Indian languages including Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati and Bengali. It enables users to share files without Internet using its Hike Direct feature. Free group calls with up to 100 people is also possible on the app. Users can also hide their private chats.
“As a leading provider of mobile technology and Internet of Things solutions, FIH Mobile understands the value that mobile platforms, such as Hike Messenger, bring to our business portfolio, and our strategy for delivering cutting-edge products and solutions that meet the needs of our customers and consumers, enabling us to achieve sustainable business growth. Hike, with its hyperlocal strategy is clearly the company of choice for us to co-invest with our partners Softbank and Tencent,” said Calvin Chih, CEO, FIH Mobile.