Sharechat’s top exec shares how the social media startup is built for Bharat users – which platforms of the West lack

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Sharechat’s top exec shares how the social media startup is built for Bharat users – which platforms of the West lack
Sharechat
  • In an interview with Business Insider, Debdoot Mukherjee, Sharechat’s Vice President, Artificial Intelligence, talks about how the platform is leveraging tech for Bharat users.
  • India is a huge market for the world’s biggest social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and others.
  • However, Mukherjee believes that the social media platforms of the West are limited to the ‘first generation Internet user’ of India.
Indian social media platform Sharechat has been the talk of the town for its reach crossing the language barriers, its investments and acquisitions, and now, going after the short video market with its latest offering Moj. And at the heart of it all, lies its bets on technology to grow further.

In an interview with Business Insider, Debdoot Mukherjee, Sharechat’s Vice President, Artificial Intelligence, talks about how the platform is leveraging tech and standing out when compared to the social media platforms of the West.
Sharechat’s top exec shares how the social media startup is built for Bharat users – which platforms of the West lack
Debdoot Mukherjee, Vice President, AISharechat

Tailor-made for India

India is a huge market for the world’s biggest social media platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. However, Mukherjee believes that the social media platforms of the West are limited to the ‘first-generation Internet user’ of India.
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He is referring to the first adopters of the internet in India – the English-speaking audience which consumes content similar to the West. Naturally, he says, that the platforms developed in the West catered nicely to the first generation user but it didn’t work as seamlessly for the Bharat user.

“We have been able to onboard somewhat different sections of the Indian population as Sharechat has been tailormade keeping their needs and wants from the internet in mind,” he said.
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Move into the real India or the ‘Bharat’ user, Mukherjee says there’s a stark difference in the taste in content. “The topics that trend on a daily basis on a platform like Sharechat are poles apart from that what would trend on Twitter and others,” he said.

Sharechat has been on an acquisition spree. “Most of the acquisitions are aligned with the product roadmap that we would have otherwise pursued. Only for the ones we get signals that are users will enjoy the particular brand of content we partner with other players,” he informed.

Sharechat’s recent acquisitions
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Circle Internet - hyperlocal information platform for language-first Indian internet users.HPF Films - video production company specialised in digital content.

Curating content for Bharat users

Sharechat’s users are the not so tech-savvy Indian audience – the one that doesn’t know the right keywords to search for content in Google but instead feeds on a content consumption search based model. Mukherjee breaks it down for us. “If you look at the feed-based products, they are usually based on a user walking in and choosing a set of people he/she wants to follow, and once you start following them, you start getting content. That sort of follow model doesn’t work well on a platform like Sharechat,” he said.

SharechatMoj
Monthly active users160 million80 million
Average user time spent per day31 minutes34 minutes

Here’s what trends on Sharechat – content or topics ranging from wishes to memes to discussions to devotional content. And because this kind of content is not particularly created by one person, a Sharechat user doesn’t know who to follow. “So the model which works naturally for us is an AI-driven feed. It is essentially AI that does the matchmaking between what the consumer wants and the content available on the platform. This also allows for democratization of content,” he said.
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Being a social media platform, Sharechat also has to keep an eye on the content shared on the platform and ensure that it is safe for its users. While it has partnered with International Fact-Checking Network to check on the content shared on the platform, it also has its own methodology. “The tech flags content that isn’t fit for wider consumption – from anything which is not safe for work to that which incites violence. The tech is built to identify and flag it and there are human teams which take the decision of removing the content as necessary,” he said.

Taking on TikTok

Right after TikTok’s ban, along with other Chinese apps on June 29, Sharechat rolled out its own short video platform Moj. Moj has an average of more than 2.8 million users, creating about 2.5 lakh new videos every day, and users have consumed over 3.4 billion minutes of video play in July.

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And Sharechat believes it is well-positioned to take on the gap left behind by TikTok as its content was 70% videos even before they launched Moj. It is now riding on the shoulders of Sharechat to grow Moj.

Sharechat also recently received $40 million in funding from Dr. Pawan Munjal, DCM Shriram Promoters Family Office, SAIF Partners, Twitter, Lightspeed Ventures, and India Quotient to grow Moj. Reports also say that Sharechat is in talks with Google for a potential investment.

“Our short-video platform Moj has been on an explosive growth trajectory since its launch. This funding will help us further invest in our product development, ML capabilities, and helping the creator community,” said Ankush Sachdeva, CEO & Cofounder, ShareChat in a statement.

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