Hike, the billion-dollar messaging app chasing WhatsApp in India, may be preparing to enter the live-streaming space following a recent acquisition.
The company, which is backed by Chinese internet giant Tencent, has acquired India-based live-streaming app Pulse and at least two of its founding team, according to a report from Inc42.
Hike declined to respond to our request for comment but, as Inc42 first noticed, the LinkedIn profiles of founders Prakhar Khanduja and Karthik Vaidyanath show that both have worked at Hike since February, on the growth team and head of engineering, respectively. Both men’s profiles report that InstaLively, the parent company behind Pulse, was acquired by Hike.
It wouldn’t be a huge surprise if Hike did enter the live-streaming space given its connections with China through Tencent, which made Hike a unicorn last year when it led a $175 million investment round at a valuation of $1.4 billion. Live-streaming has become a major generator of growth and revenue for a range of top social company. Indeed, its popularity is so widespread that it has caught the attention of government censors, who last week clamped down on three popular services.
Hike has already borrowed heavily from China’s tech trends. A major update to the service this month saw it emulate WeChat’s ‘red envelopes’ with the introduction of ‘blue packets’ and an in-app wallet/payment function. Beyond that, Hike also cloned Snapchat when it added stories to its app last year. In 2015, Hike acquired calling startup Zip Phone in its first piece of M&A.
Despite an aggressive product development pipeline, the app is generally seen to lag WhatsApp by some margin in India. India is WhatsApp’s largest market globally with over 200 million users, but Hike has consistently stayed quiet on its user numbers. The last time it said anything publicly was in January 2016 when it crossed 100 million registered users.