Iyer has worked with multiple Middle East-based media companies in the past, including Khaleej Times, Abu Dhabi Media, and Persian Gulf.
VerSe has rolled out Dailyhunt in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait. It is headquartered in Dubai. Dailyhunt has launched its business with over 5,000 content partners catering to the UAE market.
The local language content platform will soon be partnering with news publishers, including MENA Newswire, Al Khaleej, The Brew, Chalk Media, Brandknew, KKompany, Mudgal Kreations, Buzzing, and Gulf Today, among others.
“By launching Dailyhunt in these GCC (Gulf Co-operation Council) countries, Verse aims at addressing what we believe is the unmet, unsolved content needs of a very linguistically diverse audience that demonstrates very similar behaviour to local language audiences in India than anywhere in the world,” Umang Bedi, co-founder of VerSe Innovation, told ET. “In this strategic growth plan, we will soon expand Dailyhunt in MENA countries including Iraq, Iran, Israel, and Egypt, and support languages like Hebrew, Farsi, and Arabic.”
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Bedi said the digital advertising market opportunity in the region was as big as India’s, which is around $4.5 billion, growing at about 25% year on year, with no “large incumbent”. He expects a third of the company’s revenue to come from the region in two years.
The investment for expansion will be minimal, he said, as the company will use the same technology stack as the one in India and its customer acquisition costs will be kept to the minimum.
“We are spending some money on audience acquisition, but it is nowhere close to the quantum of what we used to build Dailyhunt in the early days in India,” said Bedi. “We are doing this in a multitude of mechanisms, driving word-of-mouth, WhatsApp shares, virality is a big one.”
Bedi said the only real cost is the audience coming in and being able to monetise it from advertising.
“This is why we don’t have an engineering leader to lead this market, we have got sales and business development to really start thinking about monetisation. Because a lot of the costs are already captured in the Dailyhunt core,” he said.
The company’s expansion into the Middle East market comes
soon after its $805 million funding round in April, which valued it at $5 billion.
VerSe Innovation was valued at around $3 billion after a $450 million funding in August last year and prior to an investment by Google and Microsoft. The company has raised $1.5 billion in the past year, underscoring the capital-intensive nature of the industry.
Besides DailyHunt and Josh, VerSe Innovation also houses PublicVibe, a hyper-local video platform.