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VerSe Innovation acquires Magzter for a foray into super premium content

Launched as Dailyhunt Premium, this subscription-based offering will provide users access to premium content from international publishers in over 60 languages

VerSe Innovation Co-Founders Umang Bedi (Left) And Virendra Gupta

VerSe Innovation Co-Founders Umang Bedi (Left) And Virendra Gupta

Peerzada Abrar Bengaluru
VerSe Innovation, India’s biggest local language technology platform, announced its acquisition of Magzter, a cross-platform, self-service, global digital newsstand with a library of over 8,500 premium magazines and newspapers. VerSe runs new aggregator platform DailyHunt and short video platform Josh.  This move marks Dailyhunt’s strategic foray into super premium content. The company said this acquisition would also help in its journey to becoming India’s largest digital media tech conglomerate. The firm didn’t reveal the amount it spent on this acquisition.

Launched as Dailyhunt Premium, this subscription-based offering will provide users access to premium content from international publishers in over 60 languages including English, French, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish, and more. This includes global publications such as Time, Newsweek, Fortune, The Economist, Forbes, Reader’s Digest, Cosmopolitan, Vogue, Maxim, Elle, Vanity Fair, New Yorker, Bazaar among others across their respective India and international editions. This expansion addresses the demand for high-quality premium content, particularly catering to the discerning tastes of India’s elite and aspirational upper-middle-class demographic. 

“In the last few years, we find ourselves in a privileged position where we serve over 350 million users. Together with that, we serve the educated, and mass affluent middle-class audience across 15 different local languages. VerSe’s revenue grew by 57 per cent to Rs 1,809 crore in FY23. For the last two years, Dailyhunt’s standalone as a business has been EBITDA positive,” said Umang Bedi, co-founder of VerSe Innovation, in an interview. “But one opportunity that we realized is that we were not serving the top-end audiences (about 20 million). For instance, three years ago, the IPL was free on Hotstar. About two years ago, they moved IPL behind the paywall, and they had about 15 million subscribers that paid about 1500 rupees a year for that subscription. We also have 10 per cent of our users on the Play Store, who tell us to give them an ad-free experience and they are willing to pay for it. That is a very interesting cohort. This audience also consumes a lot of international content. So, about a year ago, we started talking to Magzter about the acquisition. We are focusing on the premium audience in India via high-quality content. We're also looking at a similar premium audience globally that exists in every market.”

The company said that the acquisition fortifies Dailyhunt's position as the largest platform for news and infotainment in the country, serving content in key international and regional languages.  This acquisition also marks the evolution of the Dailyhunt’s revenue model, expanding from pure advertising to include a blend of subscription-based revenue streams.

Magzter has a track record of having over 1.1 million active paying subscribers from India alone and a user base exceeding 87 million since its establishment in 2011. It has become the world's largest and fastest-growing digital newsstand. Offering thousands of magazines and newspapers across over 40 categories, Magzter brings a wealth of premium content to the Dailyhunt ecosystem. 

“In the next couple of months, we will within the app itself, allow this content to flow through in a premium version and cross-sell in terms of a subscription to our existing audience base. That now gives us the ability to expand our audience with high-quality premium content. It also helps us now create multiple revenue streams, not just ads on this business, but subscriptions as well,” said Bedi.

Avendus was the exclusive financial advisor in this transaction.

“We are excited to join forces with VerSe Innovation and contribute to the evolution of content consumption in India," said Girish Ramdas and Vijayakumar Radhakrishnan, co-founders, Magzter. "This partnership opens up new avenues for delivering high-quality content experiences to users across India, further strengthening our goal of providing unparalleled digital reading experiences to our readers.”

VerSe said that its acquisition capability is underpinned by its robust financial standing led by its successful funding round of $805 million, alongside Dailyhunt's consistent positive EBITDA, for over two years, and showing continuous year-over-year growth. 

VerSe  said that it continues to build strategically with the launch of several new initiatives. These include VerSe Collab - a tech driven influencer marketplace and the upcoming introduction of the VerSe NeXTChange, a Bharat focused programmatic audience network and WISE – VerSe’s Generative AI Platform for content generation. VerSe said it remains steadfast in its pursuit of growth and expansion opportunities. With a deep and diverse cap table, the company is on track unlocking new avenues for expansion and further cementing its position as the leading media tech conglomerate.

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First Published: Apr 18 2024 | 9:28 AM IST

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