Former Facebook India head Umang Bedi joins Dailyhunt as president

Mumbai: Banking on the rapid growth of regional language internet users, Umang Bedi, who resigned as Facebook India and South Asia managing director last October, has joined news and regional language content app Dailyhunt as president.

Dailyhunt, formerly known as Newshunt, is owned by Bengaluru-based mobile consumer products and solutions company, Verse Innovation Pvt. Ltd. The company’s investors include Matrix Partners India, Sequoia, Omidyar Network, Falcon Edge and Bytedance.

“When I resigned from Facebook, I had this itch to do something that would have a large impact at the local level. This is a tremendous opportunity to drive scale via Dailyhunt’s ‘Made in India’ platform,” Bedi said in an interview on Wednesday.

Dailyhunt delivers content using a proprietary algorithm powered by deep learning and machine learning. It has over 155 million app installs offering news articles in 14 languages licensed from over 800 publication partners, according to Bedi.

He added that the Dailyhunt has 80 million monthly active users who spend about 6 billion minutes on the service every month.

The platform, Bedi pointed out, provides original video content in Hindi and Telugu, and free live television streaming service with more than 130 channels across nine languages through a strategic partnership with Vuclip and YuppTV—over-the-top (OTT) video content space providers.

Dailyhunt even picked up a minority stake for Rs15 crore in OneIndia—the local news language portal owned by Rajesh Jain and B.G. Mahesh—in July 2016. Its latest offering comes in the form of Newzly, a news excerpt mobile application that provides user customized trending headlines, also in nine languages.

Bedi’s work is cut out for him since Dailyhunt’s revenue model relies primarily on online advertisements.

Digital advertising currently accounts for about $1.5-2 billion of the overall advertising pie, which is pegged at about $9.9 billion in 2018, according to a new forecast by WPP-owned media agency GroupM.

The pie in the media space is dominated by Google and Bedi’s former employer Facebook who jointly are estimated to account for about 65-70% of the total digital advertising revenue.

Also, digital advertising in media is predicted to be the fastest growing medium, registering 30% growth rate to reach Rs12,337 crore in 2018, according to the same GroupM report.

“I believe Dailyhunt can differentiate to win market share in the advertising space and be an independent platform of scale,” said Bedi, who is banking on the potential of local languages to boost internet growth and, with it, Dailyhunt’s business growth.

According to an April 2017 study by KPMG and Google titled Indian languages Defining India’s Internet, the number of Indian language internet users grew at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 41% between 2011 and 2016 to reach 234 million by the end of 2016.

The report forecasts that by 2021, regional language users will touch 536 million users, accounting for 75% of India’s Internet user base. Vernacular Indian languages—led by Hindi, Marathi and Bengali users—are redefining the Internet landscape by transforming the lingual face of Digital India, noted Bedi, adding that “Dailyhunt is leading the transformation and enjoys the No. 1 position in this exciting market”.

Virendra Gupta, founder of Dailyhunt, added: “Umang’s background in social media content and experience, leading scaled teams generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues is a great fit with our plans”. Prior to Facebook, Bedi held senior executive positions in companies such as Adobe, Intuit, and Symantec in India and South Asia.livemint

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