Lee Fixel’s Addition leads $35 million investment in India’s Inshorts

Inshorts, which operates a popular news aggregator app in India, has raised $35 million in a new financing round led by Lee Fixel’s Addition as the Indian startup looks to scale its adjacent, social network platform.

For Fixel, who wrote several high-profile checks to Indian firms while running Tiger Global, InShorts is the first Indian startup he is backing from his new VC firm. Fixel, who also invested in InShorts when he was at Tiger Global, has backed about six startups through Addition, including New York Area-headquartered Odeko, which offers ordering and supply chain tools to cafes; Synk, which develops tools used to identify vulnerabilities; and dLocal, which operates a cross-border payment processor to connect global merchants to emerging markets.

SIG Global and Tanglin Venture Partners also participated in Inshorts’ new round, which values the startup at about $125 million, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

Azhar Iqubal, founder and chief executive of Inshorts, told TechCrunch in an interview that the startup raised the capital to further scale Public, a social network it launched in April 2019.

Public is a location-based social network that connects individuals to people in their vicinity. Think about people living in the same society, or people in a mall or within a few miles from each other.

Public, which is available in several major Indian languages (including Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Assamese, Gujarati and Marathi), is allowing shop owners to drive e-commerce, serving as a classified platform and allowing recruiters to hire people from the neighborhood, said Iqubal.

The app, which also provides entertainment and news services, has amassed more than 50 million monthly active users, he said. More than 1 million videos are being created on the platform each month.

“There are more than 10,000 urban centres in India, and existing social networking apps that are aimed at connecting friends leave room for a location-based play,” said Iqubal.

In the next few months, Iqubal said Public will attempt to deepen its penetration across India. In the future, he wants to expand Public outside of India as well, he said.

Inshorts, which is profitable, competes with a handful of players in the country, including DailyHunt. Interestingly, both DailyHunt, co-run by Umang Bedi (former head of Facebook India) and Inshorts have expanded to explore opportunities in the space of social networks.

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