Glance raises $45 million funding; to launch three new offerings, says Naveen Tewari of InMobi Group

Using this capital, we want to launch a few more platforms such as Glance TV, which is premium programming but of ultra short duration: Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO, InMobi Group

Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO, InMobi Group Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO, InMobi Group

India's first Unicorn start-up InMobi, which earlier this year restructured its business, has closed a $45 million deal with Mithril Capital for its content business company Glance. Mithril Capital is an investment firm co-founded by Silicon Valley investors Ajay Royan and Peter Thiel that largely focusses on growth stage companies. Mithril's co-founder Royan has also joined the board of the company as a director. Glance, which provides personalised content to screen zero of smart phones where every time users unlocks their phones, their lock screens are loaded with new visual and interactive content that is personalised. Business Today spoke to Naveen Tewari, Founder & CEO, InMobi Group on the deployment of funds and growth strategy. Edited excerpts:

Business Today: You recently undertook a re-structuring exercise. How does InMobi operate now?

Naveen Tewari: We restructured InMobi in the beginning of this year by creating a holding company called the InMobi Group. We have three subsidiaries under the group. The first one was called the InMobi Marketing Cloud, which is our media and the software business in the marketing and advertising space. The second one is Glance and the third one is Trufactor, which is in the data and intelligence space. The objective of creating these three companies was very simple. One, we saw massive potential in each of these three companies independently. By massive we mean that each of these businesses will turn into multi-million dollar businesses on their own as they scale. Therefore, in order for them to get to that stage, we need to make sure they have an independent path, management team, independent resources, including financial resources, so that they are not hampered by the needs or the requirements of anyone else and they can go through on their own. InMobi marketing cloud, which has been our traditional business for the last 10 years, is a fast growing highly profitable business. So, we don't need funding there.

Business Today: You have raised $45 million to fund the Glance business. Tell us more about this investment and its deployment?

Naveen Tewari: In the beginning of this year we went out to raise capital especially for Glance. The $45 million from Peter Thiel's Mithril capital is part of a larger round of $75 million-plus. It is only for Glance and will be utilised. We're seeing significant growth in Glance. Today, it has crossed 15 million daily active users, which puts it as one of the top few consumer apps in India. Plus, it is also the fastest growing consumer app in India for last 12 months or so. We now have 50 million daily active users. One of the things that InMobi as a company is quite good at is to build things and take them to global stage. We have done this with InMobi in the B2B side, we've done it with Trufactor on the enterprise software side and now we are doing that with the Glance on the B2B side. So, we are looking at launching this globally, especially in Southeast Asian markets such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Philippines. The second big reason for raising the capital was to launch few more platforms on top of the existing ones and in order to increase engagement.

Business Today: What is in the pipeline for Glance? How are you planning to extend the content available?

Naveen Tewari: Using this capital, we want to launch a few more platforms such as Glance TV, which is premium programming but of ultra short duration. We're not trying to compete with Netflix or prime or other platforms in that form. Glance TV will work with production houses and artists to create two to three-minute TV serials or TV shows. The second is Glance Gaming with 25 per cent of our users already into gaming, we really want to build a large gaming platform on top of glance's screen zero. We will also launch Glance Nearby, which will provide on demand, hyper local information around your locality. We are testing them out and we have already seen success.

Business Today: Since you intent to bundle so many features into the offering, are you looking at creating Glance as a super app?

Naveen Tewari: We're not trying to make this a super app. We cater to different time and moments in a consumer's journey. We cater to a micro moment, which is utilised for a few seconds. Most OTT platforms are about sitting down and binge-watching. So we don't compete with them. All we care for is micro-moments of people that they can utilise efficiently. In those moments, you know you have a high level of ROI for them. Viewing apps are an intent-driven play, but we are a discovery platform.

Business Today: With your prior experience in the mobile marketing space, how do you plan on monetising the platform?

Naveen Tewari: There are two parts to this. One is the learning that Glance will bring in. Our InMobi Marketing Cloud is clearly going to be a big factor here because we understand the app monetisation ecosystem very well. We think we'll do a good job at monetisation, irrespective of where we reach . The second part of it involves monetisation strategy for Glance. We have not figured that out yet. We have been completely focussed on thinking beyond consumer destination and consumer experience by spending a lot of time on things that consumers like. Our focus has just been engagement. We will soon have clarity on our monetisation strategy; until then we'll run experiemnts to figure things out.

Business Today: Tell us more about the company and the team working for Glance?

Naveen Tewari: It is an independent company with a separate office and close to 300 people; 150 of those are on our rolls, and rest of 150 are part of the external contract ecosystem. It already has its complete management team -- Aditya Goyal, VP Partnerships; Bikash Chowdhury, VP Marketing; Ian Anderson, VP of AI; Mansi Jain, VP Strategy and Rohan Choudhary, VP Products.

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