Josh, the short-video app is tailored to a variety of regional languages and has been labeled as the ‘desi version’ of now banned Chinese app Tik Tok. The app has more than 50 million downloads on the Google Play Store to date and accounts for more than 1.5 billion video plays per day.
A Tik Tok spin-off, Josh has raised US$100 million in funding from Microsoft and Alphabet Inc’s Google. Josh is one of the numerous home-made short-video platforms that have come up since India’s government banned the popular Tik Tok app amidst the India-China border crisis in June 2020. With a rapid growth rate in internet users from rural India, Google has shown a keen interest in companies like VerSe, Josh’s parent company that offers content in local languages. Google, in its statement, said that this investment is part of US$ 10 billion Google for India Digitization Fund.
The Tik Tok ban created a void in the market for short term content viewers and creators. According to a RedSeer report, the short-term content apps witnessed a decline in July 2020 on users’ monthly time to 37 billion minutes. However, it has scaled back now to 95 billion minutes. Chinese app Tik Tok held a share of 85-90% of total monthly time spent on short-content apps by Indians in June 2020. However, it lost approximately 40% share in October 2020 to the Indian apps.
VerSe, the Bengaluru-based company, said in its statement that the latest funding round has made it a unicorn with a valuation of US$ 1 billion (approximately Rs 7400 crore). The verSe has also received funding from AlphaWave besides from the existing investors Lupa Systems and Sofina Group. The company plans to use these funds to scale up and broaden Josh’s content creator ecosystem and develop machine learning and AI technology to help them capture a wider audience. The company also plans to explore international markets that have a demand for vernacular content. The verSe also owns Dailyhunt, a news and content platform that offers content in multiple languages.