The progress of China’s Bytedance, an ambitious $30 billion tech firm, and its extremely addictive Toutiao information aggregator app has set off a seek for providers with comparable progress potential internationally.
India, second in inhabitants solely to China with quickly rising web entry, is an apparent place to look, and would-be pretender to the Toutiao crown has been discovered within the form of NewsCanine, a Chinese company that stumbled on success in India. Today, NewsCanine introduced a $50 million Series C spherical led by Chinese web big Tencent.
Toutiao is a phenomenon in China. The app has round 200 million day by day customers, and it is among the few new tech merchandise to emerge in a China the place Tencent and Alibaba dominate the buyer app panorama. Point in case, it’s so mainstream now that it has even run into points with China’s web censors. Toutiao is actually a information aggregation service that lets shoppers catch their day by day reads and uncover tales with an expertise tailor-made to their habits and likes.
That’s very a lot the model of NewsCanine, which claims over 50 million customers. The service has branched out to cowl 10 of Indians many languages, whereas it lately established a platform — ‘WeMedia’ — that augments its content material aggregation by permitting customers to submit tales, too.
This spherical is a significant milestone for the corporate. In a aggressive setting, it’s the largest fundraising spherical from a information app firm in India whereas it extra clearly brings Tencent, the $500 billion tech giant, on board with its expertise and assist. Other buyers embrace Chinese VCs Danhua Capital (DHVC) and Legend Capital in addition to Chinese cell app agency DotC United.
NewsCanine’s competitors consists of Dailyhunt — which is backed by Toutiao-owner Bytedance — Inshorts, which counts Tiger Global amongst its buyers, and NewsPoint, which is owned by media agency Times Internet.
One different competitors is UC News, a service from Alibaba-owned UC Web, which, like NewsCanine, is Chinese.
NewsCanine was launched in 2016 by CEO Forrest Chen Yukun, a pc science graduate from Tsinghua University graduate, and Yi Ma, who holds a PhD from Princeton University and beforehand labored at Baidu and Goldman Sachs .
Data from App Annie exhibits that NewsCanine is the highest information app within the Google Play Store in India — Android is the nation’s dominant working system — forward of Dailyhunt and NewsPoint in second and third, respectively. According to Sensor Tower, one other app obtain analytics service, the app has 43 million installs and its downloads grew 76 % year-on-year within the first quarter of the yr.
NewsCanine plans to make use of this new funding to drag additional forward of the competitors by specializing in including extra languages and deepening its content material library.
The firm stated it’s already utilizing machine studying to assist produce an expertise that’s personalized to customers — the expertise that Toutiao pioneered in China — and it plans to double down on that.
“Poly culture and multiple languages make content matching an incredibly hard problem,” Chen stated in an announcement. “So far, we have made good initial progress but content business is like an endless journey. There is no finish line, you have to just keep running.”
NewsCanine is aiming to achieve 100 million customers as its subsequent milestone as India’s web inhabitants surges. The nation is tipped to achieve 500 million web customers by June 2018, in response to a report from the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and Kantar IMRB. That’s up from 481 million six months prior, however web penetration in rural areas is at simply 20 % in contrast with 65 % in city India which signifies much more progress potential.
For Tencent, in the meantime, this funding is one other upping of its tempo in India.
Initially, the corporate was sluggish to place cash to work in India, the place Alibaba entered early to purchase stakes within the likes of Paytm, however regularly Tencent has obtained its checkbook out. Its most notable India-based offers embrace WhatsApp challenger Hike, healthcare platform Practo, and music service Gaana. This yr, it is reportedly specializing in discovering promising early-stage startups the place it could possibly make investments $5-15 million.
In NewsCanine, Tencent will hope to leap on the information aggregator practice that it missed in China, giving Bytedance a possibility to change into a significant Chinese shopper model.