2017 — We Explored. 2018 — We Focus.

We’ve been upto a lot over the last 12–15 months, so much that it’s been a while since I posted anything. That changes today and I’m excited to talk about what we’re upto at Hike.

Our last fundraise was Q4 2016. We raised $175M by led by Tencent and Foxconn and we went off exploring new areas for Growth. 2017 was exactly that. We evolved hike into a social platform and explored tremendously in multiple new directions.

On the Social side we launched Stories, a brand new Camera with AR built in and much more. We launched our Wallet and brought Transactions to the platform via Recharge, Taxi Booking and more. We launched Total earlier this year, our variant of Android as a bold and smart play on app distribution. That’s a lot of stuff coming out of one company of our size in just a year.

DNA

It’s in our DNA to try a lot of things at hike because we understand the nature of our business. One of the core metrics of our business is Time Spent. The thing about Time Spent is that it’s hard to figure out where it’s going to come from in the internet space. It changes every 4–5 years and likely faster today with the rapid technological and cultural evolution that we’re seeing worldwide. With the rapid evolution of technology alone, Time Spent has shifted from Text to Photos to Videos and now the new big trend Short Videos in < 5 years. These have a massive impact on products and the way they are built and delivered to users and as a result to stay in the same place in our business, one must continue to innovate and try new things.

This is quite different to most other top internet companies built in India today. While they have a tremendous amount of complexity, their core product won’t change too much if you fast forward 5 years. Users will continue to buy on Flipkart albeit buy more things, they’ll continue to order food on Zomato and so on.

So we’ve been building things, lots of new things. However perhaps with one misstep. We started building away from our Core too soon and we’ve been doing that for too long.

This month we took a big decision to go ‘Back to Basics’ and back to our Core and continue to innovate around the Core. That brings us to the big loaded question. What is hike today? What is our Core?

What is Hike?

To the people on the outside:

Hike is a messaging app focused on privacy and expression. For those who want a private space away from the public social networks of today, hike provides that avenue. The platform is 128-bit encrypted, we don’t store messages so it’s a platform where you can truly be yourselves.

This is true.

Here’s some interesting data about activity on hike:

Size of Cohorts: Social + Content > Social > Content

The above chart is called DAU LTV. In simple terms it answers the following question:

What % of our user base comes back to app for how many days in a 7 day period?

(For more on DAU LTV, read this awesome post by the guys at Social Capital)

As you can see by the above chart, we have a tremendously active platform. A majority of our users come back to the app > 5 days out of 7. You’ll also notice have 3 big cohorts in order of their size:

  1. Social + Content
  2. Social Only
  3. Content Only

Social + Content is the most recurring cohort we have. They come back the most every week. You must be wondering what’s Content doing in a Messaging app? Well that’s the fascinating thing about our platform. Hike is also a place where people love to consume quick and snackable content such as News, Live Cricket Scores and so on. That’s a very large part of what we do.

Here’s how the respective cohort’s Time Spent fares in the app by cohort:

Social Only wins on Time Spent but Social + Content cohort is also very high up. As you can see even the not so good cohorts in hike spend at least 5–7 mins per day which is quite impressive.

So if we were to ask again — what is hike today?

  • Hike is social content platform focused on privacy, expression and bite-sized content. A place where you can privately chat with friends and also consume snackable content that you love.

That’s hike, that’s our Core and that’s going to be our focus in 2018 — Social & Content. This means we’re going to say no to some good ideas to focus on the great ones. We’re going to undo some of our experiments away from the Core to bring more focus and much needed simplicity to the product. With this clarity also comes streamlined execution and you’ll immediately see that reflect in the product as well.

Team

We made a few acquisitions last year that skyrocketed the team size (200 to 350+) making us bigger than we need to be. Given the renewed focus, it’s an opportune time for us to integrate and streamline these teams.

On top of that, culturally we’ve also found it extremely difficult to manage 2 core locations. It’s like we have 2 very different cultures and that’s just hard to make work. So we’ve decided to move everyone from Bangalore to Delhi. This is bittersweet because we know we’re going to lose a few good people given their personal constraints. Though I must say the benefit of one location is already visible with faster, more streamlined execution and a more cohesive culture.

What’s keeping us wildly excited?

There 200M people who’ve just come online for the first time from a part of the market that does not resemble the top of the pyramid. Their content needs are different, their social needs very different. India clearly is a country of 20 countries and there are tremendous opportunities that exist for those who are willing to look hard enough for them ;)

That’s it for now. More updates very soon.