Bigo Technology, which runs the live streaming app Bigo Live, is expanding in India with a USD 100 million investment planned over the next three years. Apart from India, the Guangdong-based company plans to establish regional centres in the US and MENA-Europe region before the end of 2019.
"We have set our sights on expanding into India as the first region of three. India will act as a complementary center to Singapore's R&D center,” said Jason Hu, CTO for Bigo Technology. “This bold step is the first of its kind for Bigo, and a testament to the growing need for overseas centers as our user base grows."
The expansion will create jobs for over a thousand people in India, said the company.
Bigo Technology is registered in Singapore and was set up in 2014 by Chinese entrepreneur David Xueling Li, who is also the founder and chairman of YY Inc., one of the leading Chinese online social entertainment platforms. Bigo Live was launched in March 2016 to capture the overseas market and has already crossed the 200 million-user mark.
Bigo’s announcement comes close on the heels of Swadeshi Jagran Manch, an affiliate of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, urging Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ban Chinese social media, e-commerce apps and telecom equipment makers. The bone of contention is China’s reluctance to put Masood Azhar, head of Pakistan-based militant group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) and alleged mastermind behind the attack on 44 Indian security officials last week, on a United Nations terror list.
Chinese social media and content apps have been under Indian government’s radar since earlier this year. A recent report in Financial Times said that India is drafting regulations that would force Chinese social media apps to moderate content following the meteoric rise of Chinese short video apps such as TikTok, Like and Helo. In 2018, five out of 10 top apps on the Android app store were Chinese-owned.
The Indian Ministry of electronics and IT has proposed rules for intermediary apps that rely on users to create their content, said the FT report. The rules require any app with more than 5 million users to set up a local office and have a senior executive in India who can be held responsible for any legal issues.
Bigo Technology has set up a global AI surveillance monitoring system and a team of surveillance officers to regulate content. By mid-2018, Bigo was screening 600k-700k live stream broadcasts and over 100 million pictures generated by users daily. The company has a team of over 100 AI experts and engineers, and claims that it can identify 96% of inappropriate content on its platforms.
Apart from Bigo Live, Bigo Technology runs short video app Like (which crossed 100 million users in India by November 2018), mobile gaming live streaming platform Cube TV and voice-based social networking app Helo among other things.