YouTube to acquire video-based social commerce startup simsim

Bengaluru: Google’s YouTube has signed a definitive agreement to buy video shopping app simsim as it looks to help discover and buy products from Indian retailers. The terms of the acquisition were not disclosed.

“Online video will continue to grow as the primary way to find information, entertainment and connections in India,” Google India said
in a blogpost. “With over 2,500 YouTube creators with over one million subscribers, and the success of YouTube Shorts, which we launched in India first, we’re committed to growing the creator community by making it even easier for the new generation of mobile-first creators to get started.”

Started in July 2019 by Amit Bagaria, Kunal Suri and Saurabh Vashishtha, simsim helps small businesses transition to e-commerce through influencer-based videos in three Indian languages—Hindi, Tamil and Bangla. It counts Shunwei Capital and Accel Partners among its investors and has raised around $16 million so far.

Gautam Anand, vice president for YouTube Asia Pacific, said in the blogpost that the app will continue to operate independently and there will be no immediate changes while they “work on ways to showcase simsim offers to YouTube viewers”.

It’s worth noting that YouTube
has been beta testing a new integrated shopping experience in the United States that allows viewers to discover and buy the products they see in videos from trusted creators. It had stated plans to expand this pilot later this year.

In its blogpost, Google said this deal builds up on its ongoing investments in India that includes the $10 billion India Digitization Fund.

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Last year, the search giant
had backed InMobi‘s mobile-first content platform Glance—which owns short video platform Roposo—and
VerSe Innovation, the parent company of news aggregator Dailyhunt and short-video platform Josh.

“Being a part of the YouTube and Google ecosystem furthers simsim in its mission. We cannot think of a better ecosystem in which to build simsim, in terms of technology, reach, creator networks and culture,” simsim cofounders said in a joint statement. “We can’t wait to be part of YouTube and are excited to build simsim within the most admired tech company in the world.”

Gurugram-based simsim competes with Info Edge (India)-backed Bulbul and Venture Catalysts-backed Kiko TV in the video commerce space, while

recently acquired Shop101 to enter the celebrity and influencer-led live commerce segment.

SoftBank-backed Meesho is the largest player in the broader social commerce space that also includes startups like Trell, DealShare and CityMall, all of whom have raised sizable capital in recent months.

The overall social commerce market is expected to grow to $16-20 billion gross merchandise value by 2025 from a $2 billion market in 2020, according to a Bain report.



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