Hike CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal seeks to compete on Facebook with Vibe and Rush

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Kavin Bharti Mittal, a descendant of the family behind India’s second-largest wireless operator, plans to revive the struggling technology start more than four years after being valued at $ 1.4 billion (approximately Rs 10,180) from supporters, including Softbank Group.

Since receiving unicorn status in 2016, based in New Delhi Hike has suffered a series of failures. The latest blow came last month when it closed its messaging app, a platform that grabbed the attention of other investors such as Tencent and Foxconn to take over WhatsApp at the local market.

This obstacle does not mean the end of the road for Hike, the 33-year-old son of Bharti Airtel’s billionaire president Sunil Mittalsaid in an interview last week. In an attempt to resume growth, he relied on a Facebook-like a new social networking platform that promises to eliminate “creeping” and “fake profiles”, as well as a gaming application that aims to touch the growing demand in the world’s second most populous country.

“This is the most exciting thing in 18 months,” Mittal said. Hike will return to fundraising investors sometime this year, he said, declining to elaborate.

Mittal’s attempt to save the launch underscores the struggle faced by many Indian technology entrepreneurs, who are chasing a market of more than a billion users with a smartphone user base expected to exceed 750 million this year, with online entertainment for financial products and shopping. While some are aiming to become local versions of Facebook or Facebook Amazon, few have so far even come close to victory over the American giants.

Strange stickers
In recent years, Mittal has seen more downturns with Hike as the fame of his early years fades. Although it became a hit early on, thanks to its bizarre stickers and privacy feature that allows teens to hide chats from their parents, Hike’s messenger app failed to challenge WhatsApp’s popularity in India. Another Mittal idea is a super-application similar to the Chinese one WeChat – also did not take off.

Hike saw revenue from operations crash to $ 5,000 (approximately Rs. 3.6 lakh) for the year ended March 2019 – the last year for which data is available – of $ 81,000 (approximately Rs. 59 lakh) ) a year earlier, according to researcher Tracxn Technologies, the loss from continuation plus discontinued operations for FY19 was $ 235 million (approximately 1,700 kroner), according to Tracxn data.

Mittal is now focusing on increasing revenue through Hike’s two new platforms.

Vibe is an approval-only social networking website that, according to its website, promises to connect users with “the funniest people online. Safe. “More than 300,000 applications have been received since registrations opened last month.

Rush is Hike’s new bite-sized gaming platform, which was launched in December and is an online version of coin-operated gaming arcades that are commonly found in malls and amusement parks.

The nascent Indian online gaming industry is expected to double to $ 2.8 billion (approximately 20,370 kroner) in 2022 from $ 1.1 billion (approximately 8,000 kroner) in 2019, according to a Deloitte report. last month, backed by a pandemic of locks that forced Indians to stay home. Mukesh AmbaniThe richest man in India said in February last year that games would be bigger than music, movies and TV shows combined.

“With Vibe and Rush, we finished a big pivot. We are cutting off the old things, “Mittal said, declining to share the latest financial data. “We will start thinking about what it means to be profitable in 2022.”

“With the help of Sarita Rai.”

© 2021 Bloomberg LP

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