India’s New Chat App Hike Now Valued at $1.4B, Less Like WhatsApp, More Like Line

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India’s newest tech unicorn, messaging app Hike, announced that it has closed $175 million in funding increasing valuation to $1.4 billion, reports Tech Crunch.

The funding round was led by new investors, Chinese tech giant Tencent and manufacturing firm Foxconn. Tencent is the company that pioneered messaging with Chinese favorite, WeChat.

How does Hike work?

Born out of a joint venture between Bharti and SoftBank, Hike includes standard messaging app features, as well as free voice calling. The app emphasizes features such as privacy options to hide messages, and a function that allows users to send messages to non Hike users. The company heavily focuses its marketing on young people.

“Hike understands India, a highly diverse market with many nuances,” says Martin Lau, Tencent President.

Hike has stated that it has over 100 million registered users, 90% of whom are under 30 and send approximately 40 billion messages per month. 

Less like WhatsApp, more like Line

According to Hike’s founder, Kavin Bharti Mittal, every country has two messaging apps that do well, “there’s one that replaces SMS and one that does a lot more than that. Hike doesn’t even compete with WhatsApp, it is used very actively in addition to other apps.”

Hike has been focused on building differentiation from WhatsApp, which has largely retained a bare-basics approach to chat. It has left an option for a more integrated messaging app, in which Mittal has filled the gap with coupons and localized stickers within the app. Games attract over 100 million play sessions per month, and the news feature has 50 million plus users, and sees 1.5 billion stories viewed a month.

These added functions make Hike very similar to Asia’s favorite chat app, Line.

With Tencent’s involvement, Hike is likely to evolve into a ‘services’ app, reflecting Tencent owned WeChat’s numerous services which includes food delivery, ecommerce and much more.

According to Mittal, Hike is likely to introduce a payment solution within the next six to twelve months, among other new service offerings.

Hike is the only billion dollar social company in India, as of now.

 A version of this appeared in Tech Crunch on August 16. Read the full version here.