APUS Group, a Beijing-based company that makes utility apps for Android smartphones, has launched a $45 million investment fund to invest in Indian startups. Several of APUS Group’s own investors — Northern Light Venture Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Chengwei Ventures, SIG Global, and Qiming Venture Partners — will also participate in the fund.
APUS Group, which was founded in June 2014 by former Qihoo 360 vice president Li Tao, claims to have 510 million users, with over 30 million in India. Its apps include APUS User System, an Android launcher.
Even though India’s current online penetration rate is just 19 percent, according to the Internet and Mobile Association of India, the country already has the second-highest number of Internet users in the world. The number of people who have online access is expected to increase to 500 million by 2017, as inexpensive smartphones and data connections become more widespread.
APUS Group is just the latest Chinese tech firm to focus on Indian startups. For example, Alibaba, already one of the largest backers of mobile payments platform Paytm and marketplace Snapdeal, is looking for other companies to back or strike strategic partnerships with. Car-hailing app Didi Kuaidi and Internet giant Tencent (the maker of WeChat) made major investments in Ola and Practo, respectively, last year. Furthermore, Cheetah Mobile, one of APUS Group’s main rivals, announced this summer that it will launch a mobile ad platform in India.