Lockscreen content platform Glance is betting big on its live offering Glance LIVE, which will stream real time entertainment across sports, gaming, and eventually live commerce. The company will launch live commerce in the coming weeks, and creator funds are also in the offing, said Piyush Shah, President and COO, Glance, to Moneycontrol.
With the company looking to launch commerce soon, cracking the 'live' space is important, which it intends to do through Glance LIVE.
Google-backed unicorn Glance, owned by the IPO-bound ad-tech platform InMobi, has 150 million daily active users in India. The platform is co-founded by Naveen Tewari, Abhay Singhal, Mohit Saxena, and Piyush Shah in 2019. The company received $143 million in funding from Google and Peter Thiel’s Mithril Capital in December 2020, becoming a unicorn. Unicorn refers to companies that are valued at $1 billion or more.
InMobi, founded in 2007, is planning for an IPO this year at a $15 billion valuation. Almost two thirds of the company's revenue comes from the US, 18 percent from China, and the rest from Asia and India. According to a Times of India report, the company’s net revenue is expected to be $400-500 million in 2021 and has been profitable since 2016. It competes with companies like other ad-tech firms such as Affle and Criteo.
Glance LIVE aims to bring offline experiences such as live music concerts, gaming and sports to users on its lock screen platform. Users will also be able to interact with celebrities and content creators live through audio and video formats. According to Shah, live will be the next big frontier for digital content consumption and Glance is looking to own that space.
The company has been piloting Glance LIVE for the last couple of months and is rolling out to its users in phases. Currently, it will be accessible to 50 million users and will be ramped up to the rest of the consumers in the next couple of months.
“With all of this, we feel that the next stage in this evolution of content will be all things ‘Live’ and Glance wants to own the live internet across entertainment, news, sports, fashion, beauty and gaming,” Shah added.
This is in line with the ‘live’ concept that has taken off since the pandemic . Live audio platforms such as Clubhouse have gained traction, resulting in large tech companies following the suit. This is also in line with the larger ambition Glance has, which is cracking live commerce that is expected to generate a significant portion of revenue.
The company started monetising Glance mid last year through an ads model, and so far it has been successful, Shah said. “Almost 200 marketers and clients have worked with us already, because of our differentiated real estate. We expect advertising to be a good 50 percent of monetization, and commerce to be the remaining 50 percent,” Shah added.
Commerce is expected to contribute to its revenue starting next year and it is likely to be launched in the coming weeks, he said.
Cracking the live commerce
Live commerce is clearly one of the biggest focus areas for the company. Shah explained that it is no more a concept as it is picking up in countries like the US, and China.
However for live commerce to be successful the company will have to crack live first, according to Shah and Glance Live is clearly a key to this. “The next big thing that we are looking for is going to be ensuring we crack this whole live phenomenon and focus on commerce in a big way and take this whole thing globally. We are just ensuring that we actually can own this live internet and create it as a category,” Shah said.
The company is investing in multiple fronts to ensure that this is a success.
In 2019, Glance acquired short video platform Roposo. Earlier this year, the company acquired social commerce platform Shop101 and had also partnered with Collective Artists Network to launch Glance Collective, where the company will help influencers build the brands.
Glance will partner with 1000 premium creators in the country across the verticals such as sports, fashion and music. There will be collaborations with select celebrities as well. The company has partnered with Chennai Super Kings and is enabling some of the top players to go live and interact with millions of fans in the country. Glance is also working with media outlets to define live for these platforms. All these live shows will be curated and moderated based on the individuals’ preferences using artificial intelligence.
“We announced Glance Collective, which is already a big effort. It is the first phase, where we thought instead of getting them to endorse products why not help them create their own private line of products. That is a first attempt,” Shah explained.
Second would be creator funds. In response to the query about if Glance is planning to launch a fund for creators, similar to other platforms to attract more influencers, Shah said that the company will invest in the creator side big time, however he did not elaborate on the details.
Acquisitions, international expansion, funding
Acquisitions are also in the offing. “We are open and aggressively looking for acquisitions as a way to accelerate our plans globally. Anything, which is cutting edge technology, or AI that helps us to scale and be synonymous with LIVE, are the areas that we are looking at,” Shah said.
Apart from India, the company has a significant presence in South East Asia, the second largest user base after India. The company has 45 million daily active users in the region. “We are expanding (in the region) big time and we also see that as a region, where we will expand our LIVE ambition,” Shah said.
Shah did not comment on the Bloomberg report on Reliance Industries’ investment in Glance. However he said, “So we just raised almost $150 million dollars. So frankly, (we are) not in the market to actively raise funds. But we are always looking for the right partners, always looking for people who can help us in a big way,” Shah said.
Rohan Choudhary is the GM and Vice President, Glance Feed, said that user engagement and retention are one of the key challenges that most content platforms face and that would include Glance as well.
However, lockscreen gives Glance the opportunity to engage with users multiple times a day unlike other app-based platforms.According to Shah, Glance also has an advantage of scale, with 150 million users, and strong technology stack. “We have earlier done this when building InMobi as the first unicorn back then. There is a lot of learning and unlearning, from the InMobi playbook. We got to stay focused on ourselves, our consumers and not on competition at all,” Shah said.