Reliance Jio to Invest $200 Million in Mobile Startup Glance
Reliance Industries Ltd.’s digital platform will invest $200 million in the mobile content company Glance InMobi Pte., a sign regional startups continue to attract financing at strong valuations despite setbacks for some newly-public technology stocks.
The funding from Jio Platforms Ltd. values the startup at about $1.7 billion, said two people familiar with the deal asking not to be quoted since the terms are not public. Glance is also backed by Alphabet Inc.’s Google and Paypal co-founder Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital.
The Singapore-based startup offers two kinds of services: Its namesake, Glance, delivers curated content to users’ phones without them having to unlock their screens or open any apps. Its short video platform, Roposo, is increasingly becoming a celebrity- and influencer-led commerce platform for brands.
The Jio Platforms investment will help Glance expand globally to markets including the U.S., Mexico, Brazil and Russia. The transaction is subject to regulatory approvals and other conditions, the companies said in a joint statement, sent to stock exchanges.
Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd., India’s largest mobile services provider with more than 420 million subscribers, is trying to boost its base with home-engineered JioPhone Next smartphones, built in collaboration with Google. The U.S. search giant invested $4.5 billion in the company alongside Meta Platforms Inc in 2020.
Glance will integrate into the operating system called Pragati OS that Google has custom-made for the Jio devices, bringing lock screen content to buyers of the new phone. Roposo, in partnership with Reliance’s retail arm, will feature content on Jio users’ lock screens.
“This strategic investment from Reliance will lead to strong collaboration with Glance across devices, commerce and gaming,” said Naveen Tewari, founder and chief executive officer of the InMobi group. “Glance and Roposo have spawned a category of live entertainment plus live commerce via the lock screen which allows users to consume the internet very differently.”
Harvard Business School alumnus Tewari, 44, co-founded InMobi in 2007 with fellow engineering and business-school peers after a brief stint as a consultant at McKinsey & Co. InMobi went on to become India’s first unicorn in 2011.
Tewari co-founded Glance InMobi Pte, the Singapore-incorporated subsidiary, in 2019, and it turned a unicorn -- with a valuation of more than $1 billion -- with Google’s backing in December 2020. It has 163 million daily users in India and another 25 million in Southeast Asia.