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Newshunt raises $40 mn in Series C funding led by Falcon Edge

MUMBAI: Verse Innovation, the parent company of local news aggregation app Newshunt, has raised $40 million in Series C funding led by New York-based hedge fund Falcon Edge Capital.

Existing investors Matrix Partners India, Sequoia Capital India and Omidyar Network also participated in this round of funding. In September 2014, Newshunt had raised $18 million in Series B funding led by Sequoia Capital.

Newshunt is the platform of choice for local-language mobile internet users with over 75 million downloads to date. It has the widest collection of regional content in over 12 languages for local-language users in India across app stores. Newshunt aggregates content from 100 news sources with over 25,000+ articles every day.

“The next 500 million mobile Internet users that will emerge in India will largely be local language first—they will create and consume content and services in local languages. Our vision is to be a dominant part of their first Internet experience and serve these users with world-class products starting with Newshunt, e-books, iPayy and many more to come. As part of this journey, we wish to partner with the entire local-language ecosystem and work with passionate and talented entrepreneurs in building the first real, large-scale ‘Made in India, Made for India’ platform. We are excited to welcome Falcon Edge to Newshunt as we continue to further grow our platform,” said Newshunt founder and CEO Virendra Gupta.

The company said that the recent foray into e-books has created a vibrant marketplace for publishers with over 10 million local-language e-books downloaded to date by over 2 million users, 40 per cent of which are paid users. Users pay for downloads through Newshunt’s proprietary payment platform iPayy that is now also being used by third-party developers for micro-transactions through carrier billing. In the last six months, almost 4 million unique customers used the iPayy platform for payments.

Matrix Partners India MD Vikram Vaidyanathan said, “We’re privileged to be associated with Viru and the team at Newshunt and iPayy. We believe the local language Internet is set for an inflection and Newshunt will be at the center of this ecosystem. We encourage all stakeholders in the ecosystem to partner with Newshunt to create new digital content and services, get them discovered and monetized through this platform. We welcome Falcon Edge to the Newshunt partnership.”

Newshunt’s parent company also runs a carrier billing platform called iPayy. It gives merchants a way to price their products anywhere between Rs 100 and Rs 500 by integrating them across multiple telecom operators in India. This micro-transaction platform is based on carrier billing with access to 700 million subscribers across five major telcos in India. It is currently used by 300 digital goods.