Hike Ltd., an instant-messaging startup that promotes its application predominantly to India’s youth, has raised $65 million in a new round of funding led by New York investment firm Tiger Global Management LLC, the Indian company said in a statement Wednesday. Hike’s existing investor Bharti Softbank, a joint venture between Bharti Enterprises, the parent company of India’s largest wireless provider Bharti Airtel Ltd. (NSE:BHARTIARTL) and Japan’s Softbank Corp (TYO:9984), also participated in the latest round of funding.
Hike was founded in 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of Bharti Enterprises Chairman and CEO Sunil Bharti Mittal. The company released its Hike Messenger app in December 2012. The app currently has more than 35 million users, the firm said. “We now have the ammo to tackle the more audacious items on our list ... We have a great shot at becoming the first mobile-Internet company for India to cross [100 million] users,” Kavin Mittal said.
Hike previously raised $21 million from Bharti SoftBank in two rounds of funding, so the latest round brings the total to $86 million.
India’s hundreds of millions of mobile-phone users, who are rapidly moving from cheaper handsets to low-cost smartphones, are a huge draw for global companies and investors. Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), the purchaser of Hike’s multinational rival WhatsApp Inc. for $19 billion, has its largest user base outside the U.S. in India. And Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOGL) is collaborating with three Indian handset firms in the development of a sub-$100 smartphone that will run its Android software.