Facebook buys stake in four-year-old Indian start-up Meesho; here's why

Facebook buys stake in four-year-old Indian start-up Meesho; here's why

This marks Mark Zuckerberg-led company's second investment in India after it bought Bengaluru-based mobile tech company Little Eye Labs for around $15 million in 2014

Global tech giant Facebook Inc has invested an undisclosed amount for a minority stake in Indian social commerce application, Meesho, which connects small sellers with customers through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp. This marks Mark Zuckerberg-led company's second investment in one of the world's biggest online markets, India. Many suggest Facebook's move is aimed at boosting revenue through social media commerce, a practice prevalent in countries like South Korea and China.

Meesho (which is a short form of 'Meri Shop' in Hindi) was co-founded by Vidit Aatrey and Sanjeev Barnwal, both IIT-Delhi alumni and batchmates from 2008-2012. The company has received total $65.2 million worth of funding since its formation in 2015. On November 5, 2018, the company received Series C funding worth $50 million from investors including  DST Partners, RPS Ventures, and Shunwei Capital. "(This) will help us further our efforts to enable independent entrepreneurs to build businesses and grow their customer base via social channels," the four-year-old start-up said in a statement. The company said it had grown from humble beginnings to a community of over 15,000 suppliers and 2,000,000 resellers throughout India in its four years of journey. "We share a common goal with Facebook - to enable the community and help small businesses grow," the company added.

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Though Facebook has not disclosed the exact investment amount, online platform TechCrunch quoted sources confirming that the deal was signed for a "very significant amount". Experts believe that the deal could be way higher than Meesho's last year's valuation, which was around Rs 1,738 crore ($250 million).The other reason for Facebook to invest in an Indian start-up could be its effort to build an image, which has taken a beating in the past one year over the issues of fake news, regulations, data privacy, etc.

Before this, the global social media giant Facebook had acquired Bangaluru-based mobile technology company Little Eye Labs in a high-profile deal estimated at under $15 million in 2014. The start-up builds performance analysis and monitoring tools for mobile Android apps.

Edited by Manoj Sharma

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