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Updated: Hike raises $65 million from Tiger Global, BSB

hike

Update: Hike CEO Kavin Bharti Mittal has officially confirmed this investment. He also claimed that Hike has now crossed 35 million registered users with over 50% active every month. Around 90% users are from India of which over 80% of users are below 25 years.

This essentially means that Hike has at least 17.5 million monthly active users (MAUs) globally and around 16 million MAUs in India, as per our calculations. Earlier this week, WhatsApp had claimed to have close to 65 million monthly active users in India.

The company mentions that it is also handling over 10 billion messages per month including over 3 billion stickers. It is also apparently adding 300,000 registered users on a daily basis.

Earlier (Aug 26)Hike a mobile messaging application incubated by Bharti Softbank (BSB), has raised $65 million from Tiger Global, with participation from BSB, reports the Economic Times, citing sources. MediaNama contacted Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO of Hike, for confirmation, but haven’t received a response yet. ET reports that BSB had invested $20 million into the company so far.

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Hike has features unique to it, such as a Hidden mode which allows users to hide private chats, and make them accessible only via a password, apart from last-seen privacy (countering a Whatsapp feature that allows people to see when someone has been online last), and big file transfers of up to 100 MB.

As of June 2014, Hike had crossed the 20 million registered users mark, adding 5 million users in 3 months. In July 2014, it said it was adding 300,000 new users every day. However, the company has consistently declined to disclose the number of active users on the platform. Among its competitors, which include Line and WeChat as well, only WhatsApp discloses the number of active users. WhatsApp announced recently that it had almost 65 million active users in India. Only Daily and Monthly active users are relevant for comparative purposes, since there are those like me who had registered for Hike, but have since uninstalled it.

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Hike first need to drive registered users, and then try and keep those users active. The virtuous cycle is tough and expensive to set up, but once it gets going, it’s difficult to get people to change.

The company has done used smart TV campaigns, but also emulated the referral system similar to what Dropbox used, by offering users freebies in exchange for promoting the service to others, in order to acquire users. This has been fairly spammy, and telecom operators like Airtel, which is also a Bharti group company, decline to entertain spam complaints against Hike. This allows the company to encourage spam to proliferate. Hike has also set up a do-not-invite registry of its own, something that we had suggested.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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