Google, Thiel Funding Helps Harvard Alum Score a Second Unicorn
(Bloomberg) -- Glance, a mobile content platform from the founder of India’s earliest unicorn, has reached a valuation of over $1 billion after completing a funding round that was led by Google, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
The Alphabet Inc. unit and billionaire Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital invested $145 million in the 18-month-old startup, whose app uses artificial intelligence to curate a personalized feed of entertainment, news, sports scores and video game content and push it to phone lock screens, according to a statement. Mithril had earlier invested $45 million into Glance, taking the total funds raised by the startup to $190 million.
Bangalore-headquartered Glance Digital Experience Pvt is the second unicorn from the group that created InMobi, a cloud marketing platform that became India’s earliest tech startup to reach the milestone. The group was founded by 43-year-old startup veteran Naveen Tewari, alumnus of the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology and the holder of an MBA from Harvard Business School.
“Glance marks an India-born innovation in the consumer internet space,” Tewari, the group’s chief executive officer, said in an interview. “Just as Google dominates search, YouTube rules video and WhatsApp is the messaging leader, Glance intends to dominate the lock screen,” he said over a Zoom call from his Bangalore home.
Glance currently has 115 million daily active users who average 25 minutess on the app each day. The app operates only in the Android ecosystem and has partnered with leading device makers including Samsung Electronics Co., Xiaomi Corp., Oppo and Vivo.
By partnering with Google, the company plans to take its product to the rest of Asia and launch in the U.S. -- where it will team up with carriers -- and South America in 2021, Tewari said. Glance is currently focused on acquiring users and has just begun experimenting with ad-based monetization models, according to Tewari.
Read more: TikTok’s India Rival Booms With 500,000 Users Added Every Hour
The startup’s other app, short video platform Roposo, saw a surge in downloads over the summer, after rival TikTok was banned in India along with dozens of other China-based apps amid security and privacy concerns. The new capital would help the company build a stronger AI backbone.
“ByteDance has shown the world that the next generation mobile products are AI-based,” Tewari said. “Like ByteDance which dominated in China before going global, we are India leaders going global. Call it the Easternization of consumer AI technology.”
©2020 Bloomberg L.P.