Hike Messenger is a cross-platform instant messaging service for smartphones that uses the internet for communication. In addition to text messaging, users can send each other graphical stickers, emoticons, images, videos, audios, files, voice messages, contacts and user location.
Kavin Bharti Mittal’s Hike Messenger on Tuesday announced that it had raised series D financing of over $175 million (around 1,100 crore) in a funding round led by Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group.
Kavin Mittal, chief executive of Hike said Tuesday, the series D funding round, which is also the largest, took the valuation of the company to $1.4 billion.
Hike becomes the 10th Indian unicorn—a start-up valued at more than $1 billion—alongside e-commerce marketplaces Flipkart Ltd, Snapdeal (Jasper Infotech Pvt. Ltd) and ShopClues (Clues Network Pvt. Ltd), data analytics outsourcing firm Mu Sigma Inc., mobile advertising technology firm InMobi Technologies Pvt. Ltd, payments company Paytm (One97 Communications Ltd), restaurant search service Zomato Media Pvt. Ltd, cab-hailing start-up Ola (ANI Technologies Pvt. Ltd) and online classifieds company Quikr India Pvt. Ltd. Existing investors Tiger Global, Bharti Enterprises and SoftBank Group also participated in the funding round.
Experts and analysts say Hike has been able to do so because of the investor confidence it has generated.
Launched in December 2012, Hike received around $21 million in funding from Bharti SoftBank in 2013-14. In August 2014 it attracted investments to the tune of $65 million from a consortium led by Tiger Global.
“The new fund-raise is going to allow us to push Hike to greater heights and invest in areas that will be a key to our long-term vision and success,” said Mittal, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the company. The home-grown messaging app services provider is one of the fastest-growing messenger services after WhatsApp. Hike has more than 100 million users and 40 billion messages per month.
Ninety-five per cent of its users are based in India and 90 per cent of them are below the age of 30.
On an average, Hike users spend 120 minutes per week on the platform, the company said, adding that some of the key elements of the app were the 10,000+ stickers available in 40 languages, its themes and its multi-lingual user interface.
The platform also includes News in English and Hindi, Games, Live Cricket, Coupons, Just for Laughs and Hike Daily. The emphasis on ‘privacy’, especially a mode that enables a user to hide chats quickly, has also made Hike popular.
Features such as Hike2SMS and Hike Direct are built for India.
While Hike2SMS helps send free SMS when there is no internet connectivity, the Hike Direct helps share files without the use of the internet.
“Tencent and Foxconn both have pedigrees that speak for themselves and such an investment, especially in today’s market, just goes to show the strong foundation on which Hike is being built,” said Mittal.