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What’s interesting about Hike’s acquisition of VoIP startup Zip Phone

(with inputs from Vivek Pai) Hike, a messaging service backed by Airtel* promoter group Bharti and Japanese investor group Softbank, has acquired a VoIP (Internet Telephony) startup called Zip Phone. This is Hike’s first acquisition, and the second one for Bharti-Softbank, which had earlier acquired a mobile coupons company Hoppr; after Hoppr's founders quit the company, it was expected to be merged into Hike. Previously, Hike had raised $65 million from Tiger Global and BSB. The company now claims to have crossed 35 million registered users worldwide, and claims that over 50% active every month. Around 90% of its users are from India and are below the age of 25 years. Why this is acquisition is interesting at this point in time The Zip Phone acquisition comes at a time when Airtel has taken a strong stance against Net Neutrality, and sliced off VoIP calling into separate VOIP packs, offering flimsy reasoning to justify the move.  Airtel eventually backed off, following much ridicule, after forcing the TRAI's hand on announcing a consultation on net neutrality. According to Hike, voice calling is one of the top requested features by its users, and this acquisition will allow the company to launch free voice calling to users much sooner. This acquisition also means that the Bharti group now has two companies with VoIP capabilities: Airtel has Airtel Talk, while Hike can surely be expected to launch VoIP services. The two Bharti group companies appear to be working closely together. I've actually had an Airtel Customer Care executive explain to me how Hike…

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

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

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