Bengaluru: According to the latest regulatory filings accessed by ET, TikTok owner ByteDance has fully exited VerSe Innovations, the parent entity of local language news aggregator Dailyhunt and short-video app Josh, at a 56 percent discount.
According to the filings, the Chinese firm, which first invested in VerSe Innovation in 2016, has sold its stake to existing investors Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan (OTPP) and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
Over 139,000 shares of ByteDance were sold to OTPP, and over 162,000 shares were sold to CPPIB. According to the filings, the Chinese firm sold these shares for around $102 million.
According to a back-of-the-envelope calculation, At the last primary fundraise valuation of $5 billion, this translates to a more than $232 million payout for ByteDance, resulting in a 56 percent discount in the secondary share sale.
According to ET on June 1, ByteDance’s exit from VerSe Innovation comes at a time when it is also considering re-entering India through a new partnership with the Hiranandani group.
As it seeks to re-enter one of the world’s largest internet markets, the company is looking to form a new partnership in India and rehire former and new employees, according to several people familiar with the situation.
VerSe Innovation announced in April that it had signed definitive documents and raised $805 million in a new round of funding led by existing investor CPPIB.
CPPIB said it invested $375 million in VerSe in April as part of a fundraising round, and another $50 million in January of this year.
After a $450 million funding round led by Siguler Guff and Baillie Gifford in August of last year, the Dailyhunt parent was valued at around $3 billion. It had previously raised $200 million from investors including Falcon Edge Capital, Glade Brook Capital Partners, Google, Microsoft, and QIA.
The company has raised $1.5 billion in the last year, demonstrating the sector’s capital-intensive nature. VerSe Innovation did not respond to ET’s inquiries right away.
Josh has 150 million monthly active users, with 49 percent of them being daily active users, according to VerSe Innovation, while Dailyhunt has over 350 million monthly active users.
The company previously stated that it plans to offer Web 3.0 experiences in multiple languages on its platform, as well as experiment with social commerce, live commerce, and influencer-led commerce.
Mohalla Tech, a competitor of VerSe Innovation and the owner of local language social network ShareChat and short-video platform Moj, is said to be closing a $300 million funding round led by Google, Singapore’s Temasek, and other investors.
The industry saw major consolidation in February when ShareChat’s Moj and Times Internet’s MX TakaTak announced a merger. The Times of India Group, which also publishes The Economic Times, owns Times Internet.
After India banned a slew of Chinese apps, including TikTok, in 2020, following border hostilities with China, platforms like MX TakaTak, Moj, and Josh rose to prominence. Josh is competed with by apps like Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts.