Hike raises $175 mn from Tencent, Foxconn; joins $1-bn club


NEW DELHI: Hike Messenger has raised $175 million in a fresh round of funding led by Tencent Holdings and Foxconn Technology Group, joining the coveted ‘unicorn’ club of startups with a valuation of almost $1.4 billion.

This is the fourth venture capital round and the biggest to date for Hike, founded by Kavin Bharti Mittal, son of Bharti Enterprises Chairman Sunil Mittal.

Existing investors Tiger Global, Bharti and Softbank Group also participated in this round.

The latest round of funding takes the total investment to over $250 million, valuing the company at nearly $1.4 billion, Hike said in a statement.

The ‘unicorn’ club — or startups with valuation of over $1 billion — include Flipkart, Snapdeal and Ola from India.

Commenting on the new round of funding, 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.

He, however, 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 acquisition of technology, and great teams and people…that enhance our vision and mission,” he said, but ruled out an IPO at this juncture.

“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 business to reach maturity,” he said.

In January 2016, Hike had announced it has a base of 100 million users. As much as 95 per cent of Hike users are based in India and 90 per cent 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.