Facebook invests in social commerce startup Meesho
Photo Credit: Reuters

Social networking giant Facebook Inc. has invested in Bengaluru- and California-based Meesho, an online marketplace for resellers, five years after first acquiring an Indian startup.

Facebook had bought Bengaluru-based Little Eye Labs in 2014. Its US peers Google and Twitter Inc. have also either invested in an Indian company or bought one. Twitter had, in 2015, acquired mobile-based customer engagement platform ZipDial while Google made its first direct investment in an Indian company in December 2017 when it backed daily tasks management app Dunzo.

Facebook's investment will help Meesho enable independent entrepreneurs to build businesses and grow their customer base via social channels, the startup said in a tweet.

In an interview with CNBC-TV18 television channel, Facebook India vice-president and managing director Ajit Mohan said that the startup’s growth in tier-II and tier-III cities as well as the number of women resellers on its platform was what had caught the US company’s attention.

While he did not disclose the size of the deal, he said Facebook had picked up a minority stake in Meesho.

“The lens to the investment was fuelling a model that has serious impact and can transform lives,” he said, adding that Facebook would be open to more opportunities with a similar impact.

Meesho, run by Fashnear Techologies Pvt. Ltd, is based out of Bangalore. It also has an entity incorporated in California, US, called Meesho Inc.

It was among the three Indian startups chosen by Y Combinator for its summer 2016 batch. That was the first time the Silicon Valley-based seed accelerator on-boarded Indian startups.

In November last year, Meesho raised $50 million in a Series C round of funding from China's Shunwei Capital, Russian-Israeli billionaire Yuri Milner’s DST Partners and RPS Ventures, a fund set up by former SoftBank managing director Kabir Misra. Existing investors Sequoia Capital India, SAIF Partners, Venture Highway and Y Combinator also took part in this round.

Earlier in 2018, the company raised $11.5 million (Rs 77 crore) in a Series B round of funding led by Sequoia Capital India. Existing investors SAIF Partners, Y Combinator and Venture Highway also participated in the round.

In 2017, VCCircle had reported that the startup raised $3.44 million (Rs 22.4 crore then) from a group of angel investors. However, TechCrunch later reported that it was a Series A funding round led by SAIF. The company had also raised a couple of angel rounds in 2016.

Founded in 2015 by IIT Delhi alumni Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, Meesho allows sellers to set up an online shop through its platform. It also facilitates sharing on other social media platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook and Pinterest, among others.

According to information on its website, Meesho has over 15,000 suppliers and more than two million resellers throughout the country on its platform.

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