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Hike has acquired InstaLively; Entering livestreaming space?

Hike Messenger has acquired hyperlocal social networking app Pulse’s parent InstaLively Livestreaming Pvt. Ltd., reports Inc42. Following the acquisition, InstaLively co-founders Prakhar Khanduja and Karthik Vaidyanath have both joined Hike Messenger, as indicated by their LinkedIn profiles. While Prakhar has joined the Growth team at Hike, Karthik is the Director of Engineering. It’s worth noting that both joined Hike in February 2017, so the acquisition was possibly completed then or earlier.

We’ve written to Hike Messenger to find out the size of the deal, the reasons for acqui-hiring InstaLively, and if the rest of the team at InstaLively has also been absorbed into Hike or not. We will update once we hear back.

This acquisition equips Hike to enter the livestreaming space, and if they do take that step it will be a natural progression:

– In November last year, Hike updated its app with a Snapchat-like feature called ‘stories’ where updates delete themselves 48 hours after posting, and an in-built camera with live filters. The company also mentioned that it will also launch a feature for video recording in the coming weeks.

– The month before, in October, the company had launched video calling for Android users.

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– While, back in January 2015, Hike had acquired a VoIP (Internet Telephony) startup called Zip Phone. Zip Phone was initially released as ‘Awaaz’ a ‘plugin’ for Android phones, that enabled direct phone-to-phone (P2P) calling over WiFi, and later the app rebranded itself as Zip Phone.

In January last year, Hike claimed it had more than 100 million registered users, but didn’t mention how many of them are active users. The company also mentioned that 90% of its user base is from India, and that users spend 120 minutes per week using the app, apart from viewing 11.2 stories per user per day. Interestingly, the platform had claimed to have crossed 70 million users in October 2015, and at that point had stated that users spend over 140 minutes per week using the messenger.

Hike’s WeChat connection

Earlier this month, Hike launched a mobile wallet with UPI integration that allows users to perform bank-to-bank transfers. Interestingly, the wallet also offers a sort of a digital cash voucher called Blue Packets. This is almost identical to WeChat’s Red Packets (formerly known as Red Envelopes).

About a year earlier, in August 2016, Hike had raised $175 million from China’s Tencent and Foxconn in a series D round of funding. Tencent also owns WeChat, which was launched in India in 2012. It has also invested in other messaging apps such as SnapChat and Kik, and owns China’s QQ Messenger.

Hike’s acquisition of InstaLively could be another indication that it is looking to go down the same path as WeChat: aggregating a host of services on one platform. It also indicates that Tencent has given up on WeChat making significant penetration in the Indian market, though it must be noted that WeChat never released numbers on its Indian users so we aren’t completely sure how many users it has in the country.

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InstaLively and Pulse funding

Pulse, which was targeted towards college students and allowed full-screen live streaming, had raised $500,000 in a pre-Series A round of funding led by SAIF Partners, late last year.

Back in April 2015, InstaLively had raised angel funding worth $120,000 from Rajan Anandan, Amit Ranjan, Rajesh Sawhney, Niraj Singh, German investor AECAL and MeraEvents. The companyhad said that the funds will go towards customer acquisition with a target on the global livestreaming market to include entertainment, corporate and personal events.

Image Credit: Anthony Quintano by CC BY 2.0

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