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BW Businessworld

All Things Bharat

Short-video content platform Josh raised more than $450 million in its recent funding round, taking the total investment so far to more than $650 million in 2021 and a valuation of about $3 billion

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With 23 newly minted unicorns in 2021, it is no surprise that India is regarded as the third-largest startup haven. Interestingly, among these, media companies occupy a significant share. The past year accelerated consumer behaviour where digital media witnessed rapid growth in user penetration and engagement levels. Findings from a recent RedSeer report indicate that India’s short-video space is set to be the second biggest segment in terms of time spent in one year.

A typical example of the above is Josh (by Dailyhunt), a confluence of Indian content creators, music labels, entertainment format, interesting user demographics and the largest local language platform.

Powered by ‘Indianess’, according to the platform, Dailyhunt’s singular focus has been to serve Bharat, giving users access to multi-lingual content that keeps them informed, entertained, and connected. Josh is the company’s next big step in this continued effort that strategically aims to nurture a family of apps powered by social.

Built upon recognising and celebrating India’s creative beauty and diversity, the app currently holds a real creator universe of 100,000-plus creators and has already placed itself in the ‘top 10 of App Store and Play Store downloads’ in May 2021, within a year of its launch.

Expounding the burgeoning attention towards media startups, Umang Bedi, Co-founder, VerSe Innovation says, “Players that operate at the intersection of video and vernacular will enjoy a competitive advantage as investors make a beeline for this segment. Our recent fundraising of $450 million is a validation of our theory, with Josh now having attracted the largest investment in the short-video space in India.”

He adds: “In powering India’s biggest local language technology platform, we have cracked the code of engagement through our deep understanding and delivery of both the tech and content that go into making media platforms sticky. Our plans to deepen and broaden our AI/ML and data science capabilities and drive further monetisation will not only cement our clear market leadership across our local language creator base of over 50 million creators but also continue to foster investor confidence.”

The Multi Market Play

Media is one of the toughest sectors due to the increased competition. Bedi singles out some factors that come together to propel the growth of the media sector in India. “The rise of a young millennial population coupled with greater data penetration continues to drive the Indian consumer’s proclivity for digital media content that entertains and engages. Enter short-video apps that are transforming how Indian Internet users interact with content and each other,” he says.

Josh’s biggest advantage lies in the traffic it gets to understand the local context and hence, local content. Josh claims that it works well among low network areas, which is a common concern across India. “India’s appetite for this content format is mirrored in our platform metrics of 115-plus million MAUs (monthly active users), 56-plus million DAUs (daily active users) and the best DAU/MAU ratio of 49 per cent in the industry. A recent RedSeer report on short-video apps also rated Josh as a leader both on influencer and end-user activity, driven by strong performance in the Hindi belt and Tier-2 cities,” he adds.

Having received phenomenal validation from the ecosystem — users, creators and investors, Bedi states, “Our proprietary technology powers Dailyhunt which serves over 300 million users every month offering content artefacts every day in 14 languages from a licensed creator ecosystem of over 100,000 content partners and individual content creators.”

On Growth Plans

Josh just raised over $450 million in its recent funding round, taking the total investment so far to more than $650 million in 2021 and a valuation of nearly $3 billion. The company is focused on reinforcing its leadership position as the largest, fastest-growing local language AI-driven content platform in the country.
 Bedi plans on deepening and broadening Josh’s AI/ML and data science capabilities to further widen their leadership position across all user engagement and retention metrics, drive further on monetisation including ecommerce and live streaming and cement clear market leadership across our local language creator base.

“Our strong business foundation and this new capital infusion have launched us on a path of rapid growth as we accelerate our family of apps strategy and explore other geographies to extend our broad-based tech platforms in serving similar unmet content needs of local language audiences globally. We plan to go deep into the next phase of AI/ML by acquiring companies, setting up centres of excellence across the globe and hiring global talent that will give us a competitive edge,” discloses Bedi.

With a strong business foundation and support of blue-chip investors, Josh endeavours to pursue an aggressive path to capture the timeshare, revenue share and mindshare of India’s Internet users and explore acquisitions and newer geographies for growth.