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Jio invests $200 million in InMobi’s Glance as it looks to expand its e-commerce footprint

A stake in Glance is likely to help scale Reliance’s e-commerce portfolio.

Reliance Jio has announced that it will be making an investment of $200 million in InMobi’s Glance, an AI-powered lock-screen platform, according to a press release by the company. The deal is subject to regulatory approvals. Glance’s lock screen will also be integrated with JioPhone Next smartphones, as a result of a partnership with Reliance Retail.

The Glance app will be installed on “hundreds of millions” of Jio phones this year, InMobi Group founder and Chief Executive Officer Naveen Tewari told Reuters. The company claims that its lock-screen platform is present on more than 400 million devices across markets in Asia.

The funds will be used to expand its influencer-led live commerce catalogue. Piyush Shah, Co-founder of InMobi Group and President & COO of Glance, said that Glance intends to scale the platform globally and enter international markets like the USA, Brazil, Mexico, and Russia.

Jio has been on an investment spree of late, picking up stakes in key vertical markets such as content, devices, e-commerce, and gaming.

Reliance looks to boost its e-commerce offerings

It is likely that the Reliance’s portfolio will be aided by the influencer-led live commerce model which reaches Glance’s millions of users.

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Reliance Retail is also in discussion with InMobi’s Roposo, its live commerce platform, for a social commerce deal, according to a PTI report. Roposo was conceived as a way to fill the void left by TikTok in the short-video space but pivoted to live commerce shortly. Roposo has 30 million monthly active users, as per LiveMint.

“We are partnering with Reliance Retail to provide the e-commerce back-end for a new generation front — a commerce experience of influencer-led entertainment and commerce,” Navin Tewari was quoted as saying.

He added that Walmart and TikTok entered into a similar deal to promote sales on social media platforms instead of taking the traditional advertisement route but it could not pick up. “It actually became a great way to do commerce. That is what we are replicating here. It will take 3-6 months. We are talking about integrating the back-end system,” Tewari explained to PTI.

What do we know about JioPhone Next?

Google’s investment of Rs. 33,737 crores in Jio Platforms (US$4.5 billion), was announced by Reliance Industries Managing Director Mukesh Ambani during the company’s online Annual General Meeting last year. It was the second biggest external investment received by Jio after Facebook invested Rs. 43,647 crore (US$5.7 billion) in the company.

The JioPhone Next smartphone was built in partnership with Google and runs an optimised version of Android— Pragati OS. The company claimed that the smartphone’s affordability will convince millions of 2G mobile users to buy JioPhone Next as the upgrade costs are high at current smartphone prices. The handset is priced at Rs 6,499.

The JioPhone Next smartphone has “received extremely encouraging response from retailers and customers” in both urban and rural areas, Reliance Retail told Economic Times. The company has not released details about the sales performance of its handset.

However, many analysts have pointed out that the company is unlikley to make a huge dent in the Android smartphones market given the prohibitive pricing of the handset. The move to integrate Glance can be viewed as an attempt to add value proposition for prospective buyers as Reliance seeks to drive up the buzz around JioPhone Next.

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Lowdown on Jio’s investments

Here are some of its major investments in the last couple of years:

  • Dunzo: The company raised $240 million in a funding round led by Reliance Retail, which invested $200 million for a 25.8 per cent stake in the quick commerce startup, as per a press release. This makes the oil-to-telecom conglomerate the biggest shareholder in the startup and values Dunzo at $775 million, up from about $300 million.
  • Just Dial: A preferential allotment of 2,11,77,636 equity shares at Rs. 1,022.25 per share was approved by Justdial’s board to Reliance Retail, according to a Bombay Stock Exchange filing last year. RRVL’s stake in Justdial now stands at 40.98 percent making RRVL a promoter, the regulatory filing added.
  • Zivame: Reliance Brands bought out the stake held by Ronnie Screwvala’s Unilazer Ventures in lingerie etailer Zivame. The company may have paid up to $160 million for acquiring the firm, as per Economic Times.
  • Milkbasket: A hyperlocal delivery startup, was sold to Reliance for around $40 million, in the shadow of shareholders disagreement, Economic Times reported. The company’s board had rejected the proposal after which co-founder Anant Goel resigned, the business daily added.
  • Urban Ladder: Reliance Retail has invested more than Rs. 182 crores in online furniture retailer Urban Ladder in return for a 96 percent stake in the company.
  • NetMeds: Reliance Retail also has a stake in NetMeds, an online pharmacy portal, to the tune of 60 percent. The majority equity stake in Netmeds’ parent Vitalic was acquired at a cost of Rs 620 crore. Netmeds.com is an e-pharmacy portal competing with the likes of PharmEasy, Tata 1mg, among others.

Apart from this acquisition spree, the company has also joined hands with Google and Facebook to leverage their expertise. Google bought a 7.73 percent stake whereas Facebook got a 9.9 percent stake. The deal with Facebook was significant as Reliance Retail and WhatsApp agreed to a commercial partnership to push JioMart on WhatsApp, MediaNama reported previously.

What does this investment mean for Glance’s valuation?

The investment was part of Glance’s Series D round of funding. The company had only recently raised $145 million in a fund raising round led by Google in December 2021, Entrackr reported. The company is likely to be valued at around $2 billion after this investment; it was valued at over $1 billion in December, as per Entrackr.

InMobi is the largest stakeholder in Glance with 63.3 percent stake followed by Mithril Capital Management which owns 22.6% per cent, Entrackr added. Alphabet (formerly Google Capital) has a 12.7 percent holding in the company. It is not yet clear as to what will be Jio’s holding after this investment in the platform.

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Written By

I cover several beats such as Crypto, Telecom, and OTT at MediaNama. I can be found loitering at my local theatre when I am off work consuming movies by the dozen.

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

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