Early today, Twitter made an announcement. It has invested in ShareChat, an Indian social media app for local languages. The app is a popular local language content application with over 60 million monthly active users in India alone. It has been downloaded over 100 million times which supports 15 languages, excluding English.
In what is Twitter’s first investment in an Indian startup, the investment makes sense because both apps share a broader goal of initiating public conversations. Manish Maheshwari, MD, India said in a statement shared with IANS on Friday, “Twitter and ShareChat are aligned on the broader purpose of serving the public conversation, helping the world learn faster and solve common challenges. This investment will help ShareChat grow and provide the company’s management team access to Twitter’s executives as thought partners.”
The Bengaluru-based start-up is founded by three IIT-Kanpur graduates. Today, it is valued at over $600 million. It offers its services in the following languages – Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani and Bhojpuri.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last year said, “We love the conversational nature of society and culture. We’re really excited to make Twitter viable to more and more people in the country.” He clearly sees that there are a lot of opportunities in India. ShareChat offers its services in Hindi, Malayalam, Gujarati, Marathi, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali, Odia, Kannada, Assamese, Haryanvi, Rajasthani and Bhojpuri.
ShareChat said that it will utilize the $100 Million funding to strengthen its technology infrastructure and hire more people. There’s a huge opportunity for companies to capture the local market and in-turn attract more users to their platform as a report by KPMG and Google mentions that there will be over 536 million non-English internet users in India by 2021.
At first, 10 WhatsApp groups were created which had 100 members each. Within minutes, they were inundated with content including – pictures, videos, jokes, etc. to their surprise, most of them were in regional language. This made the founders, Ankush Sachdeva, Farid Ahsan, and Bhanu Pratap Singh realize that content consumption in vernacular language is huge. This created India’s first vernacular platform used by millions.
Today, Ankush Sachdeva is the CEO, Farid Ahsan is the Chief Operating Officer who heads the Operations teams, and Bhanu Pratap Singh works as Chief Technology Officer at ShareChat.
In the past, ShareChat has been in the news for warding off fake news. In April, the company removed over 53,000 accounts along with half a million pieces of content since February that violated its guidelines.