Ver Se’ Innovation Pvt. Ltd, which runs vernacular news aggregator DailyHunt, has raised $25 million (Rs 168 crore) in a fresh round of funding from Chinese content provider ByteDance, it said in a statement.
The Bangalore-based company said Arun Sarin, former CEO of Vodafone, and existing investors Matrix Partners, Sequoia Capital India, Omidyar Network and Falcon Edge also participated in the Series D funding.
Virendra Gupta, founder of Ver Se’ Innovation, told Techcircle.in that the entire $25 million will go as primary component into the company and no existing investor has exited.
Without commenting on the valuation at which the fund was raised, Gupta said the fund will be used to “develop more content formats, videos, personalisation of the app and machine learning for better user experience.”
“DailyHunt has grown by partnering with publishers, developers, advertisers and other ecosystem partners… The investment by ByteDance, which has done this at scale, reinforces our belief in the opportunity,” Gupta said in the statement.
DailyHunt was launched as NewsHunt by former Nokia executives Umesh Kulkarni and Chandrashekhar Sohoni in 2009 and sold to Ver Se’ Innovation in 2012. The company was rebranded DailyHunt in August 2015.
“DailyHunt is serving a huge unmet need of providing local language content to Indian mobile users and has grown with its localised approach ad-business model,” said ByteDance founder and CEO Zhang Yiming.
DailyHunt forayed into e-books in 2014 and is currently working with around 150 regional and global language book publishers. Last year Ver Se’ acquired Delhi-based Rocket Science Innovations Pvt. Ltd, which runs e-commerce price comparison and recommendation platform BuyT.in, for an undisclosed amount.
DailyHunt is addressing the next 400 million users who will be brought online by the coming explosion in data usage, according to Vikram Vaidyanathan, managing director of Matrix India.
Earlier this year, DailyHunt invested Rs 15 crore in OneIndia, a local language content provider owned by Rajesh Jain.
It claims to have 28 million monthly active users, app installations in over 120 million phones with over 4.5 billion page views per month.
DailyHunt raised Rs 250 crore in Series C in February led by New York-based hedge fund Falcon Edge Capital. In September 2014, it raised Rs 110 crore in Series B from Sequoia Capital, Omidyar Network and Matrix India Partners.
The Series D round was advised by Mumbai-based Avendus Capital.
Beijing-based ByteDance operates content recommendation platforms—Toutiao in China and TopBuzz in the US and Brazil.
Consumption of online vernacular language content seems to be rising in India.
As per a August 2016 Boston Consulting Group study, the number of rural Internet users would swell from 120 million currently to about 315 million by 2020, close to a 30% jump year on year. By 2020, rural internet users will comprise about 48% of the country’s overall internet user base.