Glance, a subsidiary of Indian mobile ad business firm InMobi, said today it has raised $45 million as it prepares to scale its business outside of India and expand its product offerings.
The unnamed, maiden financing round for Glance was funded by Mithril Capital, a growth stage investment firm co-founded by Silicon Valley investors Peter Thiel and Ajay Royan.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Naveen Tewari, founder and CEO of InMobi Group, said the current round has not closed and could bag another $30 million to $55 million in the next two months.
Glance operates an eponymous service that shows media content in local languages on the lock screen of Android-powered smartphones. InMobi has partnered with a number of top smartphone vendors including Xaomi, Samsung, and Gionee to integrate Glance into their operating systems.
Glance, which was launched in September last year and supports English, Hindi, Tamil and Telugu, has amassed 50 million monthly active users in India, its primary market. Users are spending an average of 22 minutes with Glance each day, he said.
“All the new smartphone models launched by Samsung, Xiaomi, and a handful of other vendors have launched with Glance on them,” Tiwari said.
“We share Glance’s global vision of breaking through the constraints of application architectures and linguistic markets to deliver rich, frictionless, and engaging experiences across a myriad of cultures and languages,” Mithril Capital’s Rohan said, who as part of today’s round is joining Glance’s board.
Glance does not show traditional ads, something it intends to never change, but shows a certain kind of content to drive engagement for brands.
In the months to come, Glance plans to expand the platform and bring short-form videos (Glance TV), and mini games (Glance Games) to the lock screen. It is also working on a feature dubbed Glance Location that will enable brands to court users in their vicinity, and Glance Shopping to explore ways to bring commerce around content.
As of today, InMobi Group is not monetizing Glance platform, but plans to explore ways to make money from it by early next year, Tiwari said.
The 12-year-old firm said it plans to expand footprints of Glance outside of India. The company plans to take Glance to some Southeast Asian markets like Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand. InMobi’s Tiwari said the Glance has already started to find users in these markets.
InMobi Group, which had raised $320 million prior to today’s financing round, has been profitable for several years. But the company decided to raise external funding to accelerate Glance’s growth, Tiwari said.
The firm, which has three subsidiaries including its marquee marketing cloud division, plans to go public in the next few years. But instead of taking the entire group public, Tiwari said the firm is thinking of publicly listing each division as they mature. The marketing cloud division, which brings in the vast majority of revenue for the firm, will go public first, he said.
“The IPO plans remain, and we will evaluate them as we go along. The reality, however, is that the market is so big and there is so much room that we can continue to be private for a few more years,” he said.