Twitter recently had talks about acquiring Indian social media startup ShareChat as the company looked for ways to expand its presence in the world’s second largest internet marketplace and build a global rival to TikTok, three sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.
The American company, which is already investing in Bangalore-based ShareChat, offered to buy the five-year-old Indian startup for $ 1.1 billion and had pledged an additional investment of $ 900 million, two of the companies said Sources with. ShareChat, which is supported by Lightspeed Partners India, Elevation Capital and India Quotient, among others, has raised around $ 260 million to date.
The talks didn’t turn into a deal, two sources said, asking for anonymity as the matter is private. TechCrunch couldn’t determine why the two companies had ended their talks.
Two sources said Twitter has announced its intention to bring Moj, a short-form video app from ShareChat, to international markets and position it as a rival to the Chinese app TikTok.
Twitter declined to comment and ShareChat did not respond to a request for comment.
The TikTok ban in India last year prompted numerous local startups and international giants to try their hand at the short-form video format.
With over 80 million users, Moj has become one of the largest players in this category. Earlier this month, Snap signed a deal with ShareChat to integrate the camera kit with the Indian short video app. This is the first time Snap has partnered with a company in India.
Since the takeover offer is no longer maintained, ShareChat has resumed talks with other investors for its new financing round. Those investors include Google, Snap, the sources said.
TechCrunch reported in January that the Indian startup spoke to Google and Snap, as well as a few existing investors, including Twitter, to raise over $ 200 million. A possible takeover by Twitter extended the investment talks.
ShareChat, which claims to have over 160 million users, offers its social networking app in 15 Indian languages and has a large following in small Indian cities, or what venture capitalist Sajith Pai of Blume Ventures calls “India 2”. Very few players in the Indian startup ecosystem have access to this part of this population, which has increased in recent years thanks to online use by users from even smaller towns and villages – called “India 3”.
In an interview with TechCrunch last year, Ankush Sachdeva, co-founder and CEO of ShareChat, said the startup’s marquee app has grown “exponentially,” with users spending an average of more than 30 minutes per day on the service.
Twitter itself has struggled to gain a foothold outside of major cities in India. According to AppAnnie, a mobile intelligence company whose data an industry executive shared with TechCrunch, the app reached around 75 million users in the country in January. A deal was signed with the news and social app Dailyhunt to bring Moments – curated tweets about news and other local events – to the Google-powered Indian app.
The American social network expanded its product offering over the past year under pressure from activist investors to accelerate growth.