Google builds on India bet, set to buy 2-year-old start-up simsim

“As more and more shopping happens online, video has an important role in helping viewers discover new products and find expert advice they trust,” said Gautam Anand, VP, YouTube APAC in a blog.
Google-owned YouTube, an online video sharing and social media platform, is set to acquire social commerce media start-up simsim, betting on the emerging opportunity in the segment in India. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed. simsim was founded in June 2019.

“As more and more shopping happens online, video has an important role in helping viewers discover new products and find expert advice they trust,” said Gautam Anand, VP, YouTube APAC in a blog.

“Today, we are taking another step to help viewers discover and buy products from local businesses: we have signed a definitive agreement to acquire simsim and expect to complete the transaction in the coming weeks.”

simsim, according to Anand, is helping small businesses transition to e-commerce by using the power of video and creators. The simsim app serves as a platform to connect local businesses, influencers and customers.

The company had raised $16 million in 2020.

According to a joint report by consulting firm Bain & Co and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital last year, the social commerce opportunity in India is pegged to reach $16-20 billion by 2025, compared to around $2 billion last year.

Other examples of platforms enabling social commerce are GlowRoad, Shop 101 and Bulbul. “These platforms operate through apps that can be downloaded for free, and predominantly target the mushrooming number of mobile users wanting to earn an extra income,” said Ankur Pahwa, EY India e-commerce and consumer Internet leader.

Social commerce means buying and selling directly through a social media platform such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram or Twitter. The app user is referred to as the reseller.

In a statement, simsim co-founders Amit Bagaria, Kunal Suri and Saurabh Vashishtha said, “We started simsim with the mission of helping users shop online with ease, enabled through small sellers and brands showcasing and selling their products using the power of content by trusted influencers. Being a part of the YouTube and Google ecosystem furthers simsim in its mission.”

Anand said: “There will be no immediate changes to simsim, the app will continue operating independently while we work on ways to showcase simsim offers to YouTube viewers.” He said the investment builds on YouTube’s ongoing investments in India such as India Digitisation Fund.

Earlier this year, social commerce platform Mesho became a unicorn with funding led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The round valued the firm at $2.1 billion.



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