2014 turned out to be a blockbuster year for new generation tech ventures and even though e-commerce followed by consumer internet clearly dominated the show, others such as mobile-only or mobile-first ventures also clocked some significant transactions.
Moreover, as Paytm among others gear up for talks to raise fresh capital the coming year is expected to be much bigger for mobile and mobile internet ventures in 2015.
Here’s a quick look at some of the top VC fundraising deals in the mobile space.
Hike raises $65M from Tiger Global, others: Hike, the instant messaging (IM) app service from BSB (Bharti SoftBank- the joint venture between Bharti Group and Japan’s SoftBank), secured $79 million across two rounds through the year. At first, its parent BSB infused $14 million into the firm. It later raised $65 million (about Rs 400 crore) more from a group of overseas investors led by Tiger Global Management. Hike is a peer-to-peer (P2P) messaging app that uses both data and SMS to deliver messages. It claims of having around 35 million users (as of September 2014), and handling over 10 billion messages and 3 billion stickers per month. The funds that it has raised are being used for product development and marketing, in addition to expanding its team. The venture is closely associated with Kavin Mittal (son of Bharti Group chief Sunil Mittal).
FreeCharge raises $33M in Series B from Sequoia, Sofina, others: Mumbai-based mobile and DTH recharge platform FreeCharge raised $33 million in its Series B round of funding from existing investor Sequoia Capital, with participation from Belgium-based investment company Sofina and Russian VC firm ru-Net this year. Previously, FreeCharge had raised Rs 20 crore in Series A funding from Sequoia. The company, which was founded in 2010, runs a mobile and web application that provides pre-paid mobile recharging services to consumers. It has become a mobile-first venture with almost 80 per cent of its transactions coming from mobile customers in October, compared to just 5 per cent in June-July this year. The funds are being used to build a transactional advertising platform for India and emerging markets.
NewsHunt raises $18M from Sequoia, Matrix, Omidyar: Bangalore-based mobile news aggregation platform NewsHunt scooped up $18 million (around Rs 110 crore) in its Series B round of funding from Sequoia Capital, with participation from existing investors Matrix Partners India and Omidyar Network. The firm had previously raised an undisclosed amount in funding from Matrix and Omidyar, besides Darby Overseas Investments, the private equity arm of Franklin Templeton Investments. The company, which has partnered with news publishers and has also forayed into eBooks, is using the funding to supporting the company to build a platform product for Indian language users and onboard more publishers & partners, in addition to investing in building tools and team for monetisation.
Octro raises $15M in Series A from Sequoia: Delhi-based mobile gaming company Octro reportedly raised one of the largest Series A rounds this year scooping around $15 million (around Rs 89 crore) in its first round of institutional funding from venture capital firm Sequoia Capital. Founded in 2006, Octro is the creator of popular games like Teen Patti and Rummy. The company primarily develops only multi-player games. Similar to most of its international counterparts, it also plans to sell virtual goods to monetise its platform going forward.