India's VerSe acquires Apple News+ rival Magzter

VerSe Innovation, the parent firm of Indian news aggregator app Dailyhunt, has acquired the popular digital newsstand platform Magzter, the two companies said on Thursday.

VerSe, based in Bengaluru, didn't disclose the financial terms of the deal. Magzter, which is headquartered in New York, counted Singapore Press Holdings among its backers.

The acquisition of Magzter, which offers more than 8,500 magazine titles on its eponymous app, underscores VerSe's growing focus on reaching and serving affluent audiences, VerSe's co-founder, Umang Bedi, told TechCrunch in an interview. He termed the deal Verse's largest acquisition to date.

Magzter has amassed over 1 million paying subscribers in India and boasts a global active user base of 87 million, Bedi said. The firm, which offers an all-you-can-consume model with annual subscription fees ranging from $20 to $30, has found a distribution and technology partner in VerSe, he added.

Dailyhunt, which is valued at $5 billion and backed by CPP Investments, Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Qatar Investment Authority, Carlyle Group, and Goldman Sachs, began evaluating the deal with Magzter last year. The Indian firm plans to launch Dailyhunt Premium this year, which will include an ad-free experience as well as Magzter's catalog. Magzter will continue to operate as a stand-alone service, Bedi said.

Magzter maintains partnerships with thousands of large publishers and offers titles such as The New Yorker, The Economist, Vanity Fair and Time. Dailyhunt is working to introduce a personalized news feed in Magzter that will curate articles and stories from the digital newsstand app's catalog of magazine titles.

"This partnership opens up new avenues for delivering high-quality content experiences to users across India, further strengthening our goal of providing unparalleled digital reading experiences to our readers," Magzter founders Girish Ramdas and Vijayakumar Radhakrishnan said in a joint statement. They will continue to work on Magzter following the acquisition, Bedi said.

VerSe, which also operates the short-video app Josh, is increasingly improving its finances and expects to be EBITDA profitable at the group level by next year, Bedi said. The startup had also engaged with local social media startup Koo for an acquisition, TechCrunch reported in February.

Bedi, declining to comment on any specific talks, asserted that VerSe is focused on deals with firms that are doing well financially and are scaling revenue.