Tuesday , 13 November 2018

Tencent leads $50M investment in NewsDog, an app vying to be India’s Toutiao

The expansion of China’s Bytedance, an ambitious $30 billion tech firm, and its highly-addictive Toutiao information aggregator app has set off a seek for providers with comparable development potential internationally.

India, second in inhabitants solely to China with rapidly-growing web entry, is an apparent place to look, and would-be pretender to the Toutiao crown has been discovered within the form of NewsDog, a Chinese company that stumbled on success in India. At the moment, NewsDog introduced a $50 million Sequence C spherical led by Chinese language web big Tencent.

Toutiao is a phenomenon in China. The app has round 200 million every day customers, and it is among the few new tech merchandise to emerge in a China the place Tencent and Alibaba dominate the patron app panorama. Level 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 customers catch their every day reads and uncover tales with an expertise tailor-made to their habits and likes.

That’s very a lot the model of NewsDog, which claims over 50 million customers. The service has branched out to cowl 10 of Indians many languages, whereas it not too long ago established a platform — ‘WeMedia’ — that augments its content material aggregation by permitting customers to submit tales, too.

This spherical is a serious 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 help. Different buyers embrace Chinese language VCs Danhua Capital (DHVC) and Legend Capital in addition to Chinese language cellular app agency DotC United.

NewsDog’s competitors contains Dailyhunt — which is backed by Toutiao-owner Bytedance — Inshorts, which counts Tiger International amongst its buyers, and NewsPoint, which is owned by media agency Instances Web.

One different competitors is UC News, a service from Alibaba-owned UC Net, which, like NewsDog, is Chinese language.

NewsDog 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 College and beforehand labored at Baidu and Goldman Sachs .

Information from App Annie reveals that NewsDog is the highest information app within the Google Play Retailer in India — Android is the nation’s dominant working system — forward of Dailyhunt and NewsPoint in second and third, respectively. NewsDog plans to make use of this new funding to tug additional forward of the competitors by specializing in including extra languages and deepening its content material library.

The corporate 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 tradition and a number of languages make content material matching an extremely onerous drawback,” Chen stated in an announcement. “Thus far, we now have made good preliminary progress however content material enterprise is like an infinite journey. There is no such thing as a end line, it’s important to simply hold operating.”

NewsDog 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, based on 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 development 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 steadily Tencent has received 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 will possibly make investments $5-15 million.

In NewsDog, Tencent will hope to leap on the information aggregator practice that it missed in China, giving Bytedance a possibility to turn into a serious Chinese language client model.

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