Bharti Softbank Holdings is planning to infuse additional $14 million (Rs 84 crore) into its instant messaging service Hike, according to an Economic Times report, citing sources. The capital will be used to scale the operations and marketing activities.
Founded in July 2012 by Kavin Bharti Mittal (son of Bharti Group honcho Sunil Mittal), Hike is part of a joint venture between Bharti Group and Japan's Softbank. Hike is a peer-to-peer (P2P) messaging app that uses both data and SMS to deliver messages. One of its key features is that those who don't have Hike on their phones can still receive an instant message as an SMS. You can also respond to it but have to pay normal SMS charges for that.
Last month, the company claimed it crossed 15 million users with Android being the most popular, followed by Windows phone and iOS. According to Kavin, over 80 per cent of its user-base is under the age of 25.
"The last nine months have been very exciting at Hike. We launched a bunch of new features like last seen privacy, hike offline, Indian stickers, two-way chat themes and more, which are popular with our users," Kavin said in a previous interview with Techcircle.in. "We've seen quite a bit of traction internationally especially in Germany and the Middle East, but most of our growth has come from India and that's where our focus will continue to be," he added.
Early last year, Bharti SoftBank had put in $7 million in Hike. A few months later, Hike announced its first telco partnership with Airtel, wherein the telecom operator's pre-paid users will get the first three months of usage on Hike for free.