YouTube to buy India’s video commerce startup simsim

Simsim YouTube
Image by TeroVesalainen | Bigstockphoto

Google-owned YouTube said that it would acquire two-year-old Indian social commerce startup, simsim, with an aim to help viewers discover and buy products from local businesses in the country. The acquisition is a part of Google’s $10 billion India Digitisation Fund, which was launched last year.

“As more and more shopping happens online, video has an important role in helping viewers discover new products and find expert advice they trust. Every day, people come to YouTube to compare products, watch reviews and find recommendations from their favourite creators,” Gautam Anand, vice president of YouTube APAC, said in a blogpost. 

Anand said that YouTube expects to complete the transaction in the coming weeks.

Gurugram-headquartered simsim’s app serves as a platform to connect local businesses, influencers and customers. It allows creators to post video reviews about products from local businesses, and viewers can buy those products directly through the app.

The video streaming service reaches over 450 million monthly active users in India.

“For over 15 years, small businesses have used YouTube to expand their presence online — and many of them use YouTube to reach customers outside of their local community…by bringing simsim and YouTube together, our goal is to help small businesses and retailers in India reach new customers in even more powerful ways,” Anand said.

After the acquisition, YouTube said there would be no immediate changes to simsim, and the latter’s app will continue operating independently.

According to a report by TechCrunch, simsim was valued at over $70 million. It had raised about $17 million at a valuation of $50.1 million in its 2020 Series B financing round.

“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. We cannot think of a better ecosystem in which to build simsim, in terms of technology, reach, creator networks and culture,” simsim cofounders Amit Bagaria, Kunal Suri and Saurabh Vashishtha said in a joint statement.

Anand said that the acquisition builds on Google’s ongoing investments in India. Google has recently invested in Indian startups Glance and DailyHunt, both of which operate short-video apps.

“As we work with our partners to expand access to the Internet, we know online video will continue to grow as the primary way to find information, entertainment and connections in India,” the executive said. 

The company is separately making efforts to grow YouTube’s presence in India. It recently launched its short-video service YouTube Shorts, in India. “…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,” Anand said.

Youtube has over 2500 creators and over one million subscribers in India, the company revealed. 

Google’s chief executive officer Sundar Pichai recently said that the company would make new announcements related to its investment under the $10 billion India Digitisation Fund (IDF) later this year.

The company had previously said that it would invest $10 billion over the next five to seven years to help accelerate the adoption of digital technologies in the country.

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