Beyond Flipkart and Ola: Tiger Global now wants a share of the next viral video in India

TVF runs a YouTube channel by the same name and has made several original web series.
TVF runs a YouTube channel by the same name and has made several original web series.
Image: Facebook/TVF Qtiyapa
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In the last decade, Tiger Global has made significant investments in consumer internet and e-commerce companies in the world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystem. But, over the last couple of years, the New York-based investment giant has also begun investing in slightly unconventional startups in India.

On Feb.17, the Mint newspaper reported that Tiger Global has picked up around 25% stake in online video content creator The Viral Fever (TVF) for $10 million (Rs65.6 crore).

The deal values TVF at around Rs270 crore.

TVF runs a YouTube channel by the same name and has made some of India’s original web series, including Pitchers—a drama about four startup co-founders—and romantic comedy Permanent Roommates.

Tiger Global and TVF declined to comment for this article. “Tiger Global as a policy doesn’t talk publicly about its investments or its investment strategy,” the former’s public relations officer told Quartz in an email.

The move makes a lot of sense as growing smartphone penetration has led to higher consumption of digital content across text, audio, and video formats in India. The country has seen an increase in dedicated online content creators such as TVF, AIB, and East India Comedy.

The digital space has attracted several traditional movie and music companies in India such as T-Series and Rajshri. The entry of Netflix, the US-based subscription-driven streaming service, in India is likely to further expand it.

“Monetisation is still missing. However, once everyone gets used to digital content, they will some day start paying for it. I think that’s what investors are betting on,” Harish H V, ‎partner at business advisory firm Grant Thornton, told Quartz.

This is not the first time that Tiger Global has invested in an Indian digital media company. In February 2015, it participated in a $18-million funding round of multi-channel digital video network, Culture Machine.

Tiger goes offbeat

Most of Tiger Global’s investments in India have been around consumer internet. Some important ones include e-commerce firm Flipkart, ride-hailing startup Ola, fashion retail portal Myntra, on-demand startup Grofers, local search engine JustDial, classifieds portal Quikr, and music streaming service Saavn.

But in 2015, a host of its investment was in areas so far ignored by most venture capital investors. ”Now the large startups have scaled enough, so investors are looking for newer opportunities. I can see a clear shift towards new solutions that will attract investments,” Harish of Grant Thorton said.

Here’s a look at some of Tiger Global’s offbeat investments in 2015:

Culture Machine: Founded in 2013 by former Disney India director Sameer Pitalwalla and former YouTube product manager Venkat Prasad, the company creates digital video programmes. It operates a YouTube channel, BeingIndian, and has film studios in Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai.

NewsInShorts: In February 2015, this Delhi-based startup raised $4 million in a round led by Tiger Global. Times Internet-backed NewsInShorts operates a mobile application that delivers news in less than 60 words. It had over one million downloads on the Google Play Store as of Feb. 17.

Ather Energy: In March 2015, Tiger Global invested $12 million in Bengaluru-based electric two-wheeler maker, Ather Energy. The company was previously backed by Flipkart founders Sachin Bansal and Binny Bansal. The startup is scheduled to unveil its first electric scooter at the technology summit, Surge, in Bengaluru next week.

Chaayos: In May 2015, Tiger Global invested $5 million in this Gurgaon-based tea outlet chain. The firm estimates the Indian tea market at $6 billion. It currently has cafes in Delhi, the National Capital Region and Mumbai, and delivers tea through partnerships with Ola Cafe and Grofers. Chaayos is looking to expand to 50 cafes and four cities, according to its website.