Jio Platforms invests $200 million in Google-backed Glance

Jio Platforms is investing $200 million in Glance, which serves media content, news and casual games on Android handsets’ lockscreen, the two said Monday, the latest in a series of bets from Mukesh Ambani’s empire as it looks to expand its offering to more than 420 million telecom subscribers it reaches in the South Asian market.

Reliance Industries, the parent firm of Jio Platforms and run by Asia’s richest man, Ambani, said its investment is part of the InMobi Group subsidiary’s Series D financing round. The new investment values Google-backed Glance at about $1.7 billion, a person familiar with the matter said.

Founded in 2019, Glance ships pre-installed on several popular smartphone models and has amassed “presence” on 400 million users, it said.

A sizeable portion of the user base disables Glance within the first week of buying the smartphones, and in many cases retail store owners remove Glance themselves, according to a senior Glance executive with direct knowledge of the matter.

Glance maintains tie-ups with nearly every top Android smartphone vendor in Asia, including Xiaomi and Samsung, the two largest smartphone vendors in India.

The firm will bring its technology to the JioPhone Next handsets as part of the deal, the two firms said. Google and Jio collaborated to build the JioPhone Next, which runs a heavily optimized Android operating system and sells for about $87.

“This is the latest in a series of strategic partnerships between Glance and global players in the mobile ecosystem. The deal is also expected to lead to further strategic collaborations between Glance, Reliance Retail and Jio across devices, commerce, content and gaming ecosystem,” the firms said in a joint statement.

Glance will deploy the fresh capital to expand in several key international markets outside of Asia, Jio said. Some of these markets include the USA, Brazil, Mexico and Russia. It also plans to broaden its catalog of live content and commerce ecosystem, both of which it wishes to bring to users’ lockscreen, the firms said.

“Mr. Mukesh Ambani has been a source of immense inspiration for me since my early days and it is an honor to have Jio becoming a strategic partner in our journey,” said Naveen Tewari, founder and chief executive of InMobi Group, in a statement.

“Jio’s investment into Glance brings a deep synergy of vision and philosophy. Jio is a truly disruptive company. It made internet accessible for millions of users, making India one of the largest internet markets in the world. Reliance is now disrupting the smartphone market with launch of its JioPhone Next smartphones. Jio’s investment into Glance and Glance’s presence on the lock screen of JioPhone Next smartphones will lead to a paradigm shift in how its users experience the internet.”