This SoftBank-backed Indian messenger app shuts down

Amid the hodgepodge over WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, a SoftBank-backed Indian messenger app shut down its operations in India. Kavin Bharti Mittal, the man behind Hike messenger, announced on Monday that he was shutting down Hike messenger. The app has vanished from the app stores. The app was also funded by Chinese tech giant Tecent Holdings Ltd. Tencent is also the operator of WeChat. In the world’s second-most populous country, the app was introduced with an aim to compete against WhatsApp. In a 2016 funding round, the startup valued at $1.4 billion. Mittal has not given any explanation as to why he took this move all of a sudden.

For social media and mobile communications, the app could never displace Facebook Inc.’s rival app as India’s go-to venue. India has been WhatsApp’s largest market globally for many years. Kavin is the son of Sunil Bharti Mittal, chairman of India’s No. 2 telecom carrier, Bharti Airtel Ltd. In recent years, Hike has ventured into adjacent areas such as no-frills phones. Apart from this, it has expanded even into domains such as mobile entertainment. Kavin had announced the closure Hike StickerChat on January 6.

In the meantime, there has been a mounting worldwide criticism among privacy advocates, billionaire entrepreneurs, technology experts and government organizations against WhatsApp’s new policy of keeping the right to share user data with the broader Facebook network. In a tweet, Kavin informed that his company would continue to develop its Vibe social media app and work on a new gaming product called Rush.



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