Tencent leads $5.6 mn round in audiobooks platform Pocket FM

Tencent leads $5.6 mn round in audiobooks platform Pocket FM
Photo Credit: Reuters
22 Oct, 2020

Gurugram-based Pocket FM, which operates an eponymous vernacular audiobooks platform, has raised Rs 41 crore (about $5.61 million) from Tencent Cloud Europe, a unit of Chinese technology conglomerate Tencent Holdings, along with venture capital firm Lightspeed India and media house BCCL.

Amsterdam-based Tencent Cloud Europe led the round with a Rs 23.13 crore ($3.16 million) infusion, while Lightspeed India put in Rs 11.22 crore ($1.53 million), regulatory filings showed. Additionally, BCCL, which owns multiple news channels, papers and websites, invested Rs 6.71 crore (about $1 million), it showed.

The filings regarding the fundraise were made in April, days before the government amended the FDI policy to curb the takeover and acquisition of Indian companies amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The restrictions particularly targeted China as investors from the neighbouring country have been pumping money into Indian startups.

The development was first reported by digital news platform Entrackr.

Founded by IIT-Kharagpur graduates Rohan Nayak and Nishanth Srinivas, Pocket FM is an online marketplace for audiobooks and podcasts. The platform, as per its website, offers over 10,000 hours of audiobooks and podcasts, with both free and paid versions, in Hindi, Tamil and Bengali.

As per data on VCCEdge, the firm raised $0.67 million from Lightspeed and Times Internet in August 2019.

Earlier this year, Kuku FM, which operates in the same space as Pocket FM, raised $5.5 million in a Series A round led by venture capital firm Vertex Ventures, an arm of Singapore headquartered Temasek Holdings.  

In October last year, audio streaming platform Dose FM was acquired by tax filing and investment platform ClearTax to help the latter build mobile-focused products for small businesses.

In July 2019, social audio platform Headfone raised $750,000 in a seed funding round led by Fosun RZ Capital, the venture capital arm of Chinese business conglomerate Fosun Group.