Hike shuts down messaging app, plans pivot to new social products

Hike shuts down messaging app, plans pivot to new social products
Photo Credit: VCCircle
19 Jan, 2021

StickerChat by Hike, a homegrown platform that once aimed to take on the likes of WhatsApp and Telegram, is no longer active in the instant messaging arena.

The eight-year-old application has been taken down by Hike from the Google Play Store and Apple App Store as the Delhi-based company plans to pivot toward two social products -- Rush and Vibe.

Vibe is the rebranded avatar of HikeLand, which provides a virtual space to interact and watch content with friends and people with similar interests, while Rush is a new service for multiplayer bit-sized gaming.

Kavin Bharti Mittal, founder and CEO of Hike, announced the plan to launch new services and close StickerChat through a series of tweets on January 6. Mittal did not give any specific reason for shutting down the chat service, but in a tweet later, he said that India cannot have its own messaging app unless it bans western players.

“Global network effects are too strong,” he emphasized in that tweet.

The decision is a major move for Hike as the messaging app was its core offering for years. It launched in 2012 as Hike Messenger, crossed 100 million users in 2016, and rebranded to StickerChat in 2019, as part of an effort to deliver a new sticker-focused experience to young users. In early January 2021, Bharti said millions were still spending around 35 minutes on the app every day.

During this journey, Hike raised over $260 million across four rounds. According to VCCEdge data. The last round, Series D, took place in 2016 when the company received $175 million from China’s Tencent Holdings, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group and other investors. It valued Hike at $1.4 billion back then.

The company also made two back-to-back acquisitions in 2017 -- social networking app Pulse and Creo, the maker of HDMI media streaming device Teewe.

However, none of that helped the company take on the leaders in the messaging game. WhatsApp, the biggest player in the category, dominates with a user base of over 2 billion, of which over 450 million is from India, according to App Annie data shared by TechCrunch. Meanwhile, Telegram has also surpassed 500 million global users in the wake of the recent privacy policy update pushed by the Facebook-owned company.