ShareChat - Social Network
Founded in 2015, ShareChat is an Indian social media network with over 160 million users.
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Founded in 2015, Karnataka-headquartered ShareChat is India’s leading social networking platform that operates exclusively in Indian languages. The platform allows users to discover and share content in categories like sports, news, tabloid gossip, jokes, good morning messages, fashion, and more.
In 2021, ShareChat became India’s first social media unicorn after raising $502M in a Series E funding round led by Tiger Global. The company is now valued at $3.7B after raising $266M in its last Series F financing round.
ShareChat is backed by notable investors like Twitter, Snapchat, LightSpeed Venture, Tiger Global, Temasek, Elevation, and Mirae Asset. In 2022, the company currently has 180 million monthly active users that share 2.5 billion content pieces per month, followed by a creator community of over 32 million generating more than 75 million content pieces per month.
Business Overview & Products
Sharechat has content available in 14 different regional Indian languages to cater to a diverse audience. This content includes messages, poems, memes, videos, and more. The company operates across India and offers content in Assamese, Bengali, Bhojpuri, Gujarati, Haryanvi, Hindi, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Odia, Punjabi, Rajasthani, Tamil, and Telugu.
How It Works
When the user first logs in, they have the option to pick one of 15 regional languages. Upon selecting a language, the user’s home feed fills with trending posts from a wide variety of topics such as news, tabloid gossip, sports, fashion, good-morning messages, and more. The user is then free to share these posts on ShareChat or other social media platforms like Whatsapp.
The platform also encourages users to create content of their own and share it with their followers. It has an ‘open tagging’ feature that allows users to create tags and post relevant content under those user-generated tags. The most engaging and trending tags are visible in the ‘explore’ section of the platform.
Like other social media platforms, ShareChat also allows users to interact with one another via private messages. Those with similar interests can also join groups to discuss their opinions and ideas about said topics.
ShareChat also offers the option of public chat rooms where users can jump in and start conversing with complete strangers, a common interest perk that new Indian internet users find fascinating. To serve this behavior, the app also has a feature called ‘Shake-N-Chat’ that helps connect two strangers with similar interests over personal chat.
Business Model & Pricing
Sharechat is a user-generated content network, where users can both share content, as well as create it themselves. This makes it an attractive platform for newfound content creators who are looking to expand their viewer base, especially after the TikTok ban across India in 2020.
Content creators earn money through the app by generating unique content which in turn increases their followers as well as chances of landing paid promotions from well-known brands. The company does not earn money by charging users, instead its major source of revenue is advertisements followed by sponsored campaigns.
ShareChat reported an operational revenue of $1.26 in 2020. The company’s EBITDA also improved from -2167% in 2019 to 1759.77% in 2020.
In 2021, ShareChat entered the unicorn club after raising $502M in a Series E funding round. The company last raised $266M in a Series F funding round after which its total valuation increased to $3.7B.
The company is reported to have over 180 million monthly active users and its app has been downloaded more than 100 million times.
Founder(s) & Team
Ankush Sachdeva: CEOand Co-Founder at ShareChat. Ankush, an IIT graduate previously interned at Microsoft, a leading vendor of computer software and hardware, mobile and gaming systems, and cloud services.
Bhanu Pratap Singh: CTO and Co-Founder at ShareChat. Bhanu, an IITian previously worked as a Software Development Intern at Purplle.com, a beauty and grooming platform.
Farid Ahsan: COO and Co-Founder at ShareChat. Farid, an IIT graduate previously worked as an Analyst at Deutsche Bank, a German multinational investment bank and financial services company.
History & Evolution
In 2012, Ankush Sachdeva, Bhanu Pratap Singh, and Farid Ahsan met at a Yahoo Hackube hackathon, and since then were trying their luck with tech offerings. After 14 back-to-back failures, Ankush had his eureka moment.
In 2014, he came across a Facebook post that asked users to share their phone numbers so they could be added to a Whatsapp group dedicated to Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar. Seeing 50,000 responses, Ankush sprang into action and made a similar post on Facebook, after which he created multiple groups on Whatsapp. That is when he realized that while the groups were buzzing with hundreds of messages, none of them were in English which meant there was a large non-English speaking audience whose content needs were not being met. Keeping that gap in mind, the idea of ShareChat came into existence.
In 2015, ShareChat, a vernacular content sharing platform with the flavor of a social network was launched. The platform allowed users to discover and share content like videos, jokes, GIFs, audio songs, and humorous images in 4 regional languages – Hindi, Telugu, Malayalam, and Marathi. Initially, the platform offered content in English as well but soon removed the option after witnessing low user preference.
In 2016, ShareChat launched the option for users to generate their own content and added 2 more languages to the platform – Gujarati, and Punjabi. That year the app climbed to the 7th spot in the ‘social’ category on Google Play Store and clocked over 3.5 million downloads with roughly 2 million active users sharing one million content pieces every day.
In 2018 Sharechat launched 3 new features: 'Private Messaging', 'Shake-N-Chat', and 'Open Tagging' to its app. The company also added Bhojpuri, Haryanvi, Assamese to its platform bringing its total sum of languages offered to 14.
In 2019, ShareChat acquired Clip App, a short video sharing platform, and launched 3 new features to its platform, ‘Create your own stickers’, ‘Repost’ and ‘Post search’. That year it won six awards in the following categories: ‘Best Emerging Brand’,‘Best use of Social Media Marketing campaign’, ‘Best Mobile App in Social Networking’, ‘Best Use of Social Media Campaign’, ‘Best Use of Social Media in Marketing’ and ‘Innovative Launch Campaign of the Year’.
In 2020, ShareChat launched Moj, a short video app within 30 hours of the TikTok ban in India. It also went on an acquiring spree and acquired an online fashion marketplace called Elanic, hyperlocal information platform Circle Internet, a video production company specializing in digital content known as HPF Films, and meme discovery and sharing platform Memer. That year the company opened ShareChat Labs, a Centre of Excellence (CoE) in Palo Alto, as its first establishment outside India. It witnessed a hike in content creation and absorption during the lockdown with over 160 million monthly users, 24 billion Whatsapp shares, and 28 million content creators generating 750 million pieces of content that year.
In 2021 ShareChat entered the unicorn club after raising $502M in a Series E funding round. That year it earmarked $19.1M for ESOP buyback and signed a multi-year licensing deal with T-Series.
In 2022, ShareChat and MX Player announced a strategic merger of their short video apps, Moj and MX TakaTak. The size of the deal is estimated to be $900M and it is a combination of both cash and equity. This merger will allow ShareChat to control both Moj and TakaTak.
The number of social media users in India stood at 518 million in 2020. While in 2021, the number of internet users in the country were estimated to be 658 million in 2021 which roughly makes up for 47% of the total population.
According to Statista, total revenue in the social networking segment of India is estimated to reach $295M in 2022 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.18%, bringing its total market volume to $434M by 2026.
What sets ShareChat apart from its competitors is its no-English option which is a first for social media in India. The platform offers content in regional languages catering to a large audience in small towns and rural areas. This is a major reason why Western tech giants like Twitter are taking notice of the startup.
In 2022, the company had to take down more than 4 million pieces of content due to 19 requests from law enforcement agencies and 61,88,644 complaints from users.
Suggested starting points to dive deeper
How ShareChat’s focus on AI, ML is helping the social networking site grow (Simantika Choudhury, Your Story, Oct ‘21)
ShareChat creates Clubhouse-like monetised audio platform (Exchange 4 Media, June ‘21)
ShareChat: The Social Solution For A Multilingual Nation (Komal Mor, Dutch Uncles, June ‘21)
[Product roadmap] The role tech played in the journey of Bharat-focused social media startup ShareChat (Sindhu Kashyaap, Your Story, April ‘21)
An introduction to ShareChat: Personalising content for Next Billion Users — ShareChat (Ankur Shrivastava, Sharechat, Jan ‘19)
ShareChat: India's homegrown rival to WhatsApp (Soutik Biswas, BBC News, Nov ‘18)
ShareChat: The no-English social media app that Indian politicians are flocking to (Aria Thaker, Scroll.in, Oct ‘18)
How Sharechat is going from a Good Morning message factory to a content powerhouse (Jayadevan PK, Factor Daily, Aug ‘18)