Google invests over Rs 1,800 crore in two Indian startups

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai had announced a $10 billion (Rs 75,000 crore) Google for India Digitisation Fund
Last Updated 22 December 2020, 09:40 IST

Google on Tuesday said it has invested in two Indian startups — Glance and VerSe Innovation — as part of its $10 billion Google for India Digitisation Fund to enable them to further scale up availability of content in different formats across various Indic languages.

While Google did not disclose details of its latest investments, separate announcements by investee companies stated that Google has participated in Glance's $145 million (about Rs 1,071.5 crore) and VerSe Innovation's $100 million (about Rs 739 crore) funding rounds.

In July this year, Google chief executive Sundar Pichai had announced a $10 billion (Rs 75,000 crore) Google for India Digitisation Fund that will be invested over the next five to seven years to help accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in the country.

In the same month, Reliance Industries had announced that Google will pick up 7.7 per cent stake in Jio Platforms for Rs 33,737 crore.

"We are also eager to support the wider ecosystem in India, particularly local startups innovating in this space. When we shared details of the India Digitization Fund in July this year, we identified enabling affordable access and information for every Indian in their own language, whether it's Hindi, Tamil, Malayalam, Gujarati, and more as a key pillar in order to drive forward India's digitisation," Google Vice President Caesar Sengupta said in a blog post on Tuesday.

He added that the company has invested in Indian startups — Glance Inmobi and VerSe Innovation — to enable them to further scale the availability of relevant and engaging content in different formats across various Indic languages.

"These investments underline our strong belief in partnering deeply with India's innovative startups and our commitment to working towards the shared goal of building a truly inclusive digital economy that will benefit everyone," Sengupta said.

Glance, a part of SoftBank-backed InMobi Group, has closed a $145 million investment round from Google and existing investor, Mithril Capital.

VerSe Innovation — which runs Dailyhunt and short video app Josh — has completed an over $100 million (about Rs 739 crore) funding round from AlphaWave, Google, and Microsoft, and the funding values the company at over $1 billion.

Sengupta said over the last few years, improved connectivity and more affordable data have paved the way for India's startup ecosystem to scale and solve for the needs of the country's growing number of internet users.

In a few months, the pandemic has not only accelerated internet adoption, it has also expanded how people use the internet to get things done in their daily lives, he noted.

Highlighting that 100 million new internet users have come online from rural India in the last two years, Sengupta said rural consumption now accounts for roughly 45 per cent of overall mobile data usage in the country, and is primarily focused on online video.

"But many of these internet users continue to have trouble finding content to read or services they can use confidently, in their own language. And this significantly limits the value of the internet for them, particularly at a time like this when the internet is the lifeline of so many people," he added.

He further stated that Teams at Google have been working over the years to solve this challenge in a number of ways. "We have built new products and features that enable people to create, consume, and communicate more effortlessly across more Indic languages, and through that, better serve not just the needs of over a billion people in India, but many more people around the world," he added.

(Published 22 December 2020, 09:40 IST)

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