NEW DELHI: Hike has shut down its messaging service, with the company, which counts Softbank, Tencent, Foxconn and Tiger Global as investors, shifting focus to two new social products—Rush and Vibe. Kavin Bharti Mittal, CEO of Hike Messenger, through his Twitter handle, said the Hike chat app would be shutting down from January 15, 2021. “Today, we are announcing that we will be sunsetting StickerChat in Jan’21,” Mittal had recently tweeted.Users will be able to download all their data from within the app.

He didn’t give a reason for shutting down the service, but last week, Mittal tweeted that global network effects are too strong for India to have its own messenger.The chat app, which debuted as Hike Messenger in December 2012 positioned as India’s home-bred answer to the likes of WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, had notched up about 100 million registered users as of August 2016. It was rebranded as Hike Sticker Chat with a sticker-centric experience in April 2019. Earlier this month, Mittal said that "millions were spending about 35 mins per day on the app."Hike has so far raised over $260 million from investors, including Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings, manufacturing firm Foxconn Technology Group and the Bharti group. Its last fundraiser was in the fourth quarter 2016 when it raised $175 million led by Tencent and Foxconn at the valuation of $1.4 billion.HikeLand, which provides users with a space for ‘virtual hang-outs’, where one can sit with friends, watch content, chat, both with friends and like-minded individuals, is being renamed as Vibe. “With Vibe, we continue to build a magical and safe place online where people can be themselves and make new friends,” Mittal said in the tweet.

He added that Vibe will be an approval-only community and that over 100,000 people had already applied for the app.Rush by Hike, he said, would be a new bite-sized gaming service. The apps will be available on both android and iOS.“Hike was an early Indian entrant in the chat space, but somehow it could never leverage that as well as the synergies it could have had through Airtel,” said Faisal Kawoosa, a senior technology analyst and founder and chief analyst at techARC.Hike founder Kavin Mittal is the son of Sunil Bharti Mittal, the chairman of Bharti Enterprises, the holding company of Bharti Airtel, India’s second largest telco.Kawoosa further said that Hike’s proposition of focusing on stickers wasn't a strong one to monetise. “So, somewhere it had to pinch its feet.”This shutdown comes at a time when several messaging apps—such as Signal and Telegram—are witnessing significant growth in user base, in a reaction to WhatsApp updating its privacy policy and terms of service to share more user data with its parent Facebook.Mittal had noted that Signal and Telegram have the “right incentives as entities” for consumers unlike Facebook’s products.

Follow and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin