YouTube acquires Indian social commerce startup Simsim

YouTube has acquired social commerce startup Simsim, the Google-owned firm said on Tuesday. Neither of the firms disclosed the terms of the deal, but two people with knowledge of the matter told TechCrunch the Indian startup was valued at over $70 million. Simsim chief executive didn’t respond to a query about the acquisition Monday evening (IST).

Two-year-old Simsim had raised about $17 million prior to today’s announcement and was valued at $50.1 million in its 2020 Series B financing round.

Gurgaon-headquartered startup helps small businesses in India transition to e-commerce by using the power of video and creators. The startup’s app acts as a platform to connect local businesses, influencers and customers.

The thesis, according to Rohan Malhotra of Good Capital, an early backer of Simsim is: “micro-influencers are more effective at building a targeted audience (growth), creating entertaining experiences (retention), building trust (higher value) and personalising messaging (conversion). Consumer social platforms (Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc.) cannot meaningfully monetise via advertising-financed models in India; this unlocks the opportunity for more deeply integrated transactional platforms. New internet users in India need an interactive seller-led experience to replicate the offline e-commerce experience this market is used to.”

He, like everyone else, declined to comment on the size of the deal.

“We started Simsim with the mission of helping users across India shop online with ease, enabled through small sellers and brands showcasing and selling their products using the power of content by trusted influencers. Being a part of the YouTube and Google ecosystem furthers simsim in its mission,” Simsim cofounders Amit Bagaria, Kunal Suri and Saurabh Vashishtha said in a joint statement. Bagaria and Vashishtha previously worked together at Paytm.

“We cannot think of a better ecosystem in which to build simsim, in terms of technology, reach, creator networks and culture. We can’t wait to be part of YouTube and are excited to build simsim within the most admired tech company in the world.”

For YouTube, the acquisition will enable the video streaming giant help small businesses and retailers in India reach new customers in even more powerful ways, wrote Gautam Anand, VP of YouTube APAC, in a blog post.

The video streaming service, which reaches over 450 million monthly active users in India, doesn’t plan to make any immediate changes to Simsim and the startup’s app will continue to operate independently “while we work on ways to showcase Simsim offers to YouTube viewers,” he added.

Tuesday’s announcement is Google’s latest push in India, where it has committed to invest $10 billion in the next couple of years. The internet giant has also backed Indian startups Glance and DailyHunt, both of which operate short-video apps.

“With over 2500 YouTube creators with over one million subscribers, and the success of YouTube Shorts, which we launched in India first, we’re committed to bringing the best of YouTube to India and growing the creator community by making it even easier for the new generation of mobile-first creators to get started,” he added.

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