Parent entity of ShareChat and Moj, Mohalla Tech has raised a cumulative of $913 million in 2021, spread across three funding rounds. The company was valued at $3.7 billion in its latest $266-million Series G round, announced last week. It's two products include an Indic social media platform ShareChat and a short video platform Moj. They claim to have a monthly active user base of over 180 million users and 160 million users respectively. BusinessLine spoke to Ankush Sachdeva, CEO ShareChat and Moj, about the three funding rounds and the potential of live and video commerce. Excerpts:

Mohalla Tech has raised $913 million in funding this year. How do you plan to deploy these funds?

Investment raised this year will further strengthen our strategic priorities of building best in class AI feed, attracting and incentivising a diverse creator base, and building social and live commerce capabilities.

We have been continuously growing our AI/ML team which is now over 100 people strong and spread across the US, Europe and India. With these highly experienced hires, we are today one of India’s largest AI/ML teams working on building a cutting-edge recommendation engine. Social and live commerce is estimated to grow incredibly in the coming year and we are going extremely bullish on that sector.

Moj has recently partnered with Flipkart to offer live commerce on the platform. What is your assessment of video commerce as a market opportunity?

Digitisation and the pandemic have given online shopping and video commerce a huge push. Though prevalent and mainstream in other parts of the world like China and the US, video commerce is relatively new in India. I believe video commerce is expected to see an upward trend in the coming years and we are betting big on this feature. We recently announced a multi-year partnership with Flipkart, one of the biggest e-commerce players in India to enable live video commerce at scale.

While Moj partnered with Flipkart to add a commerce feature on the platform, competitors like Trell have built their own marketplace to enable this feature. What was the rationale behind Mohalla Tech's decision to partner with an established marketplace rather than building its own marketplace?

Flipkart today has the widest selection of catalogue and the largest logistics support that they have built over several years. We believe going with an established e-commerce player like Flipkart helps us immensely to scale live commerce fast while keeping the quality of customer experience top-notch.

As the number of users on ShareChat grows, the need for content moderation has also increased. What are the challenges of moderating content on an Indic social media platform with multiple languages?

With over 340 million monthly active users accessing both ShareChat and Moj, there is a large amount of content created and comments made that need to be reviewed to ensure that they meet our platform’s community standards. For this effort, we use both AI tools as well as internal and external content moderators and have a process in place to ensure our rules are strictly enforced.

We have human content moderators and AI tools to ensure that our platform is moderated in every one of the 15 Indic languages that our platform is available in. We employ a large number of individuals to moderate and maintain the health of our platforms. We have monthly reviews along with members at the highest levels of the company to ensure issues around edge cases are swiftly dealt with.

We also work with multiple third-party IFCN certified fact-checkers who fact-check content on the platform that is reported by our users.

In recent months, many start-ups have come out with innovative ESOP policies which give employees visibility on when the next ESOP liquidity event would take place. Some companies like Licious and Teachmint have even promised anytime liquidity to the employees. As Mohalla Tech's team grows rapidly, do you also plan to offer employees more visibility on upcoming liquidity events?

ShareChat and Moj are the category leaders today and the exponential growth along with the success story wouldn’t have been possible without the unabated commitment of our people and we believe, ESOPs are a great way of rewarding them. We did our first ESOP buyback programme worth $19.1 million this year, bringing some benefits to our employees. We understand that it is important to enable regular liquidity for the ESOP holders and hence we are planning on having regular liquidity events on an annual basis going forward. This is essential in following our ambitious plan and paving the way for our future growth.

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