Hike Messenger becomes the latest startup to join the coveted ‘unicorn’ club. According to latest reports, it has raised $175 million in a fresh round of funding led by Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group.
The latest round puts Hike’s valuation at almost $1.4 billion taking the company’s total investment to over $250 million. Existing investors Tiger Global, Bharti and Softbank Group also participated in this round.
Founded by Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal, this is the fourth venture capital round and the biggest to date for Hike.
The ‘unicorn’ club or startups are companies with a valuation of over $1 billion, which include the likes of Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola from India.
Kavin Mittal said that the company would be investing in services, people, office space as well as some long-term bets in areas of machine learning and computer vision. However, he did not comment on the quantum of stake that Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group had taken with the fund infusion.
Hike is also looking for buy-outs, Mittal said, “We will be open to the acquisition of technology, and great teams and people…that enhance our vision and mission,” he said, ruling out an IPO at this juncture anyway.
“It’s too soon in our journey (for an IPO). We are only three-and-a-half years into the business. It typically takes 6-8 years for the business to reach maturity,” he said.
In January 2016, Hike had announced it has a base of 100 million users. As much as 95 percent of Hike users are based in India and 90 percent of them are below the age of 30 years. Hike users on an average exchange 40 billion messages per month.
Hike’s biggest rival WhatsApp was bought by social networking giant Facebook in 2014 for a whopping $19 billion. Hike’s other competitors include LINE, Viber and WeChat.