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In October 2021, when rumours began circulating that ShareChat was in talks to buy short video platform MX TakaTak, there was an air of inevitability about it.

The reason for ShareChat’s interest was obvious. The Bengaluru-based social media platform owns and operates Moj, a major rival to MX TakaTak. And even as it has grown Moj into one of the country’s biggest short video platforms—behind only Meta’s Instagram and possibly YouTube Shorts—it has seen MX TakaTak make impressive gains as well.

Indeed, TakaTak’s growth took even MX Media executives by surprise. Since its inception in mid-2020, the platform now claims to have 150 million monthly active users (MAU)—only slightly behind Moj’s 160 million. According to several current and former executives at MX media, TakaTak’s traction also saw it start to catch up to MX Player, its older, advertising-based video on demand advertising-based video on demand AVODs Video streaming services that offer content for free and make money by playing ads on their platform (AVOD) sibling, in terms of advertiser interest.

With TakaTak flying high, the timing of its sale surprised a few executives. All of them, however, agreed that a sale was an eventual outcome. Times Group, which owns over 40% of MX Media through Times Internet, is known to trade successful products for the “right price”. In this case, the deal is reportedly worth between $600-700 million. The Ken has learnt that the deal is an all-stock one, contrary to media reports that it is a cash-plus-stock deal. 

On the other hand, by acquiring TakaTak and merging it with Moj, ShareChat is set to be the biggest Indian player in the short video sector. Competitors like Josh, Roposo, and Chingari are nowhere close, said multiple executives in the short video industry. The reported post-merger target of 300 million MAUs by the end of 2022 should put Moj in the company, if not ahead, of Instagram, which presently dominates the sector with over 200 million MAUs. The Ken couldn’t determine YouTube Shorts’ user base in India.

This only adds weight to the story ShareChat is selling to investors. In 2021, the company mopped up over $900 million across three fundraises, taking it to a valuation of $3.7 billion. Already, it is in talks to raise a further $500 million at a $5 billion valuation. As the largest player in a lucrative sector—short video is expected expected EY Playing by new rules: Media and Entertainment Industry trends 2020 Read more to “garner 25% of total time spent on online video viewing by 2023”—this ask doesn’t sound astronomical.

AUTHOR

Soumyajit Saha

Soumyajit covers the operations of Big Tech companies and OTTs in India. Before The Ken, he covered equity and currency markets in Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand for Reuters. You can hit him up via email about anything, except money he allegedly owes you.

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