Glance, a business-to-consumer focused content platform owned by InMobi group, has raised $45 million in series A funding round from celebrated tech investor Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital. Part of a larger round of about $75 million, the Bengaluru-based start-up looks to use the proceeds to expand into global markets, especially South East Asia. It also aims to create consumer-facing products in areas like short-form video, gaming and local search, Naveen Tewari, founder & CEO of InMobi Group told Business Standard.
Thiel, the co-founder of PayPal, is known for his acumen in identifying and investing in disruptive technology companies quite early, so as to grow them as multi-billion dollar enterprises in the future. Some of his successful investments include Facebook, SpaceX and Airbnb, where he has invested either in his personal capacity or through investments firms co-run by him. Glance is said to be Mithril Capital’s second direct investment into an Indian company after it led a $140 million funding round in warehousing automation and robotics start-up GreyOrange last year.
“By bringing discovery and consumption of personalised, short-form content to screen zero, Glance provides the immediacy and accessibility that consumers want,” said Tewari. “This investment will help us further accelerate our journey through continued innovation in content-format, personalisation and content discovery, and expand into new geographies.”
Launched late last year, Glance is a mobile lock-screen platform for short-form content that the company pushes to smartphones that come pre-installed with this service. The basic objective of the platform is to offer the users visually rich content and short-form videos for quick reading and viewing, and eventually help brands target those users based on their preferences. In a short span, Glance claims to have built a daily average user base of around 50 million in India, taking it closer to Instagram, which has around 69 million users in the country, according to certain reports.
This is the one-year-old start-up’s first external funding round while the InMobi group has invested about $50 million in Glance so far, said Tewari. As a part of this investment, Mithril Capital’s Managing General Partner and co-founder Ajay Royan will join Glance’s board.
“Glance, the world’s first and fastest growing screen-zero platform, is a powerful innovation to democratise content and commerce on the mobile Internet. We share Glance’s global vision of breaking through the constraints of application architectures and linguistic markets to deliver rich, frictionless, and engaging experiences across a myriad of cultures and languages,” said Royan in a statement.
Backed by the funding, Glance is looking at expanding into South East Asia while launching new consumer facing products. While the company has already done a soft launch in Indonesia, it is looking at ramping up in the country faster. In terms of content, Tewari said, the immediate goal is to launch three consumer facing products including Glance TV, a mobile-first short form video platform; Glance Gaming which is targeted at casual gamers and Glance Nearby, a hyperlocal experiential platform. “When we think of Glance, we always think of launching products which can lead to quick consumption. We are trying to create original content working with production houses and will use the capital to launch that,” said Tewari.
One of India’s earliest Unicorns (startups that are valued over $1 billion), InMobi Group focusses on three business segments including InMobi Marketing Cloud which is the core business, TruFactor (a unit which provides businesses data insights) and Glance, the newest unit.
Glance which has been structured as an independent company has around 170 people for now while the company would look adding few hundreds as it expand globally, said Tewari.