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Alibaba pumps $100 Mn in VMate to win India’s burgeoning social video space


After investing heavily in Indian payments, e-commerce, and foodtech, China tech behemoth Alibaba is now betting big on the country’s video market.

The Chinese multinational conglomerate has been pouring $100 million in Vmate, a short video app launched in September 2016 by Alibaba subsidiary UCWeb.

UCWeb launched VMate targeting India short video community market. The app allows users to stream a movie online or download for later. Users can also share these movies offline, through ShareIt, Xender, and Bluetooth among others. Over the years, it has added new features to keep up with market demand.

At present, VMate (link) has around 30 million monthly active users (MAU) globally. It plans to use the investment to establish itself as one of the prominent video apps in India.

Importantly, UC’s browser game in India has been impounded by the comeback of Chrome. Of late, Alibaba as a group also expressed interest in video content by picking up a minority stake in video analytics startup Vidooly.

In the last couple of years, India has emerged as one of the biggest mobile video markets. Mobile app downloads grew by 165% in the last two years. According to App Annie estimates that the average Indian user has about 68 apps on their smartphone, of which 35 are used on a monthly basis.

Bytedance owned TikTok is most popular short video app in the country with 120 million MAUs.

Tiktok has been downloaded more than 240 million times in India so far, according to app analytics firm Sensor Tower. Due to its strong distribution and relevant content in rural regions, the app was used in the recent election to reach out to people.

Zhu Shunyan, president of UCWeb, to 36kr said that it will study the Indian market and won’t apply the similar measures that it did in China. Alibaba will not be directing UC browser users traffic to Vmate, he added.

Alibaba believes that the local video market will mature in the next 3-4 years. Chinese tech giant sees a long term future for its next ambitious bet on VMate in India.

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