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India’s Shadow Messenger

Tencent tried, and failed, to adapt its WeChat messaging app to India. So it did the next best thing, leading a $175 million financing of the homegrown messenger app Hike at a post money valuation of $1.4 billion. Tencent sees Hike as the best way to participate in the future growth of the Indian web, even if it’s in the shadow of market leader WhatsApp. Other investors in the round included Foxconn, the phone manufacturer.

Both Chinese companies have reason to be cautiously optimistic. Hike officials told one outsider this fall that the app had 30 million monthly active users, a figure that’s much higher than what many of India’s tech elite assume about the app. In comparison, WhatsApp has more than 160 million monthly active users in the country. Daily active users, as a rule of thumb, are generally one-third of the monthly number. (WhatsApp may have a bigger advantage, by 20 to 1, over Hike in terms of time spent in the apps, according to one study.)

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