When competing against a global tech behemoth like Facebook, the chances of a relatively smaller product to get crushed is disproportionately higher. And, that is exactly what happened with the homegrown messaging app Hike which locked horns with the Facebook-owned WhatsApp!
Scion to the family that operates the telecom giant Bharati Airtel, Kavin Bharti Mittal is currently planning to revive his much-hyped technology startup which was valued at a whopping $1.4 billion back in 2016 and achieved the coveted unicorn status.
Hike Pvt., based out of New-Delhi, was inflicted with numerous setbacks over the past few years. But, the latest one which came last month was the most brutal. Mittal had to finally shut down its primary messaging app – Hike, a platform which was pegged to have the ability to take on WhatsApp in the homefront and grabbed the attention of high-profile investors such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and Foxconn Technology Group.
But then, according to the 33-year-old entrepreneur, the shutdown of Hike messenger doesn’t necessarily mean the end of the road.
In a bid to rekindle momentum, he is currently working towards launching a new Facebook-like social networking platform which the value proposition of weeding out all ‘creeps’ and ‘fake profiles along with a gaming app that aims to tap the surging demand for gaming in the second most populated country.’
In an interview last week, Mittal mentioned that Hike will go back to investors to raise funds sometime later this year but didn’t elaborate on it further.
Hike, despite witnessing a lot of success in its early years, all thanks to quirky Indian stickers and privacy features that let users hide chats, failed to compete with the overwhelming popularity of WhatsApp which currently has 400 million-plus users in India. Besides that, another idea of Mittal – a super app very similar to that of WeChat in China also didn’t take off.
For the year ended March 2019, Hike saw its revenue from operations tumble down to a meagre $5,000. According to Tracxn data, losses from their continuing and discontinued operations combined amounted to $235 million for FY19.
But, as mentioned earlier, Mittal is now hoping to revive Hike Pvt. by betting big on two of its brand new platforms – Vibe and Rush.
Vibe is a by-approval-only social networking website which, according to its official website, promises to safely connect its users to the ‘funniest people’ online while Rush is Hike’s new gaming platform that launched in December 2020 and is an online version of coin-operated gaming arcades one typically finds at malls and amusement parks.
Now, while it is still unclear how Vibe will perform in the local market. With Rush, Mittal definitely seems to be making the right bet. According to a recently released report by Deloitte, India’s nascent online gaming industry is all set to more than double to $2.8 billion in 2022. Even Reliance Chairman Mukesh Ambani in February said that he pegs gaming to become an even bigger space than music, movies and TV shows combined.
It now remains to be seen if the two newly minted bets of Mittal can actually pull Hike Pvt. out from its suffering and restore its early years’ glory days once again. We will keep you updated on all future development. Until then, stay tuned.