Hike, the Indian messaging app competing with global giants like WhatsApp, is adding a quartet of Silicon Valley veterans as investors and advisors. These include Quora co-founder and chief executive officer Adam D’Angelo; Automattic founder and CEO Matt Mullenweg (who is also a co-founder of WordPress); Dropbox vice president of engineering Aditya Agarwal; and Ruchi Sanghvi, the former vice president of operations at Dropbox.
Each made undisclosed personal investments and will serve as advisors to Hike as it attempts to gain more traction. Hike’s main competitor is Facebook-owned WhatsApp, which claims 900 million users around the world and India, where one study found that more than half of Internet users log onto the messaging app every day, is its biggest market.
Hike has been holding its own since it launched in December 2012, however, and now claims 70 million users, with over a billion messages sent each day.
In a statement, Mullenweg said “As an online social media entrepreneur myself, I have keenly observed India. I believe in Hike Messenger’s vision and I can see the team gearing up and are well positioned for aggressive growth in the country.”
One of Hike’s advantages is tailoring its services to people who are going online for the first time, founder and chief executive officer Kavin Bharti Mittal told TechCrunch. WhatsApp is expected to add video calls soon, which may make it even more difficult to compete with (both services already have voice calling), but Hike’s goal is to create a simple messaging app (which is useful for people on limited data plans or in areas with poor connections), but that still offers the same wide variety of services as other Asian messaging apps like WeChat and Line.
“Specifically, for those people just coming onto the Internet, Hike’s a true platform and one gets far more than just messaging and photo sharing. People have easy access to real-time news, live cricket scores, coupons from their favorite brands, and much, much more,” he says.
The company plans to work with its new investor/advisors to grow its user base.
“They’ve seen immense scale and have launched and been involved in products that scale across the globe over hundreds of millions of users,” says Mittal. “Very few people have seen such scale, and access to that knowledge and those insights will be extremely useful in scaling up the company.”