Google-owned online video sharing platform YouTube will acquire local social commerce startup simsim to enable viewers to buy products from Indian retailers, the company said on Tuesday.
The American tech giant has already signed a definitive agreement, and it expects the transaction to be completed in the coming weeks. However, it did not disclose the size of the deal.
“Every day, people come to YouTube to compare products, watch reviews and find recommendations from their favorite creators,” Gautam Anand, vice president for YouTube APAC, said in a blog post. “Today, we are taking another step to help viewers discover and buy products from local businesses.”
“By bringing simsim and YouTube together, our goal is to help small businesses and retailers in India reach new customers in even more powerful ways,” Anand said. “There will be no immediate changes to simsim; the app will continue operating independently while we work on ways to showcase simsim offers to YouTube viewers.”
Set up in July 2019 by Amit Bagaria, Kunal Suri, and Saurabh Vashishtha, simsim lets creators post video reviews about products from local businesses in three regional languages—Hindi, Tamil, and Bengali—and allows viewers to buy those products directly through the app. Simply put, it serves as a platform to connect local businesses, influencers, and customers. Since its inception, the startup has raised a total of USD 16 million from investors like Accel Partners and Shunwei Capital.
Simsim co-founders, Amit Bagaria, Kunal Suri, and Saurabh Vashishtha said they started the company to enable small sellers and brands to showcase and sell their products using content created by influencers.” Being a part of the YouTube and Google ecosystem furthers simsim in its mission,” they said in a statement.
The New Delhi-based startup, which caters to product categories like fashion, electronics, auto accessories, and fitness and health, competes with the likes of Meesho, BulBul, GlowRoad, Shop101, and EkAnek, among others.
The development comes nine months after YouTube, which has over 2,500 local creators with over one million subscribers, rolled out its short video feature YouTube Shorts, beginning with India.
The acquisition is in line with Google’s broader strategy to strengthen ties with local businesses. In July 2020, the Mountain View, California-headquartered company set up a USD 10 billion India fund to back its equity investments and forge new partnerships in the ecosystem. From this fund, Google has already made investments in Jio Platforms, the digital arm of India’s largest company Reliance, as well as adtech giant InMobi’s mobile-first content platform Glance, which owns short video platform Roposo, and VerSe Innovation, the parent company of news aggregator Dailyhunt and short-video platform Josh. Interestingly, Glance has also entered the social commerce segment with its recent acquisition of Shop101.
“Today’s announcement builds on our ongoing investments in India, such as the India Digitization Fund,” Anand said. “As we work with our partners to expand access to the Internet, we know online videos will continue to grow as the primary method for information, entertainment, and connections in India.”